DC Civil Protection Orders

A defense attorney plays two roles in a civil protection order case, primarily in negotiations. An experienced DC attorney can help negotiate a consent civil protection that does not involve any admission of wrongdoing or of an offense having occurred. The second role is in investigation and representation at the hearing itself should the Civil Protection Order go to hearing.

The parameters for a Civil Protection Order could change depending on the case. The length of a Civil Protection Order is usually one year, but the specific requirements can change. For example, sometimes a Civil Protection Order can include the petitioner as well as the petitioner’s children or family members. The respondent will also have to stay away from them if the judge finds that is appropriate for the circumstances. A Civil Protection Order can also include a requirement that the respondent complete a domestic violence program or make temporary changes to child custody orders.

If the respondent does not show up for a Civil Protection Order hearing, that can result in a Default Civil Protection Order. That means the Civil Protection Order is granted against them even though they were not there for the actual hearing. If the court has ordered someone to appear for a hearing and they don’t show up, they can have contempt of court charges filed against them or have a bench warrant placed for their arrest. Then they could be arrested and forced into court.

The standard for a judge to grant the civil protective order at a hearing is to find that there is good cause that the defendant committed an offense against the petitioner.
DC Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order Lawyer

Violation of an Order

The penalties can be criminal or civil, depending on the circumstances of the case. If a violation is criminal, that means that either the U.S. Attorney or the DC Attorney General’s Office has decided that they would like to prosecute the contempt of court charge. They can always decline to prosecute. In that situation, the petitioner can make a civil request for contempt. The civil request for contempt does not involve any criminal charges, meaning a person cannot be sentenced to jail time if they are found to be responsible for a civil contempt allegation. All the person receives for civil contempt is a fine.

If there is a violation of the Civil Protection Order, that can change a connected criminal charge. The person would then have two criminal charges as opposed to one, which can change the penalties that a person faces. The most important thing a person can do while a criminal charge is pending is follow the requirements of the court to the letter. That will make their life a lot easier.

A skilled attorney would listen to the defendant’s version of the events of their violation of their protection order and try to find possible defenses if a charge is still pending. There could be a complete fabrication of the Civil Protection Order violation. The accuser might simply be trying to pile on charges against the accused. It is important to investigate and treat it the same way in any other criminal case. An attorney would investigate and negotiate with the prosecutor to see what kind of defenses could be raised, including the defense that the violation simply never happened.


It depends on the damage that was done by the civil contempt. If there is no real damage done, then a judge cannot issue many civil penalties. If the violation was serious, then it can result in steep monetary penalties for violating a Civil Protection Order.

There is no typical result in a protection order case. A case could result in an acquittal or a guilty verdict, or the charges could be dismissed. The results run the gamut from complete dismissal to favorable negotiation resolutions.

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