What is a “Stay Away” or Civil Protection Order?
A Civil Protection Order, commonly referred to as a “Stay Away Order” or CPO, is a court order that is requested by an individual who claims to have been a victim of domestic violence. A CPO is generally handed in one of three places depending on the relationship between the victim and the alleged abuser: the common pleas court, domestic relations division, or general division.
How to Obtain a Civil Protection Order
The first step in obtaining a CPO is to file a Petition. If there is an “immediate and present danger,” then the first step would include filing for an ex parte CPO. An ex parte order is an emergency order issued by the court after hearing from only the petitioner, or the individual asking for the court’s protection. The court will grant an “ex parte” order if it finds that there is “immediate and present danger” to a family or household member. In addition, the victim must communicated to the judge that she presently fears and believes that harm is imminent if the court does not order the abuser to stay away.
What Could Satisfy the Factors for a CPO?
The “immediate and present danger” prong includes situations where:
- (1) the abuser has recently threatened or physically abused a family or household member,
- (2) the abuser has been previously convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, domestic violence, or
- (3) the abuser in engaged in repeated acts of domestic violence against a family or household member.
Other factors that may be relevant in obtaining an ex parte CPO include:
- the frequency and severity of the violence,
- the abuser’s alleged use of drugs and/or alcohol,
- whether the violence appears to be escalating,
- the abuser’s mental health,
- any threats of retaliation made by the abuser to the victim or another family or household member,
- whether the abuser has threatened suicide,
- the use or threatened use of a weapon,
- the abuser’s prior criminal history,
- the degree of injury to the victim in the past as well as present, and
- specific past acts of physical abuse.
What Happens After a Court Issues an Ex Parte CPO?
If the court issues an ex parte Civil Protection Order, it will generally schedule a “full hearing” or trial within 7 to 10 days to determine if a more permanent order of protection should be granted. At this hearing, all evidence must be presented to the court to determine if the order is appropriate. Further, the respondent (the alleged abuser) has an opportunity to testify and contest the petitioner’s claims. The Ohio Rules of Evidence apply to this hearing, so it is critical to be fully ready to properly present your case, including all admissible evidence and witness testimony.
What Does a Civil Protection Order Do?
The Civil Protection Order will generally order the abuser to have no contact with the victim and remain at least 500 feet away from the victim at all times and stop abusing, annoying or harassing the victim.
A Civil Protection Order may also:
- evict the abuser from the parties’ residence,
- award the victim temporary custody of the parties’ minor children,
- award temporary spousal support and/or child support,
- possession of one of the parties’motor vehicles, and use and possession of other personal property of the parties,
- prohibit the abuser from interfering with the utilities or mail at the victim’s residence;
- require the abuser to turn over any necessary keys to the victim; and
- order any other relief that it considers “equitable and fair.”
When Should Get an Attorney?
If someone has committed domestic violence against you, or if a petition for a Civil Protection Order has been filed against you, it is important to have an experienced and aggressive attorney by your side. Accusations of domestic violence are very serious, and a Civil Protection Order’s purpose to protect individuals from further acts of abuse.
However, this option is sometimes used inappropriately to gain an unfair advantage in a Divorce or Child Custody case. As you can see from the above referenced list of options a Judge can choose from in addressing a Civil Protection Order, obtaining a Civil Protection Order prior to the filing of, or during a Divorce or Custody case, can seriously impact what happens during that case.
With more than 25 years of experience, we are well versed in addressing issues involved in acquiring and contesting CPOs. The Law Office of Anthony W. Greco is able to aggressively represent its Clients’ concerns and interests involving Civil Protection Orders from the first day of representation through trial. Click Here to contact us and see what sets us apart from other firms.