The Civil Protection Order in Ohio – Used and Misused

What is a Civil Protection Order?

A Civil Protection 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 the common pleas court, domestic relations or general division, depending on the relationship between the victim and the alleged abuser.

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 also include filing for an “ex parte” CPO. An “ex parte” Order is an emergency order issued by the court after hearing from just the petitioner, or the individual asking for the court’s protection. The court will grant an “ex parte” order if it is persuaded 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 abuser is not ordered to stay away.

Some examples of “immediate and present danger” include 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 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.

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 prove or disprove the appropriateness of the protection order. At this hearing, the respondent (the alleged abuser) is given an opportunity to be heard and contest the petitioner’s claims. The Ohio Rules of Evidence apply to this hearing, so it is critical to be fully ready to property 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:

  1. evict the abuser from the parties’ residence,
  2. award the victim temporary custody of the parties’ minor children,
  3. award temporary spousal support and/or child support,
  4. possession of one of the parties’motor vehicles, and use and possession of other personal property of the parties,
  5. prohibit the abuser from interfering with the utilities or mail at the victim’s residence;
  6. require the abuser to turn over any necessary keys to the victim; and
  7. order any other relief that it considers “equitable and fair.”

When Should an Attorney Get Involved?

The bottom line is that if you are married and being victimized by domestic violence, or if a petition for a Civil Protection Order has been filed against you, having an experienced and aggressive attorney by your side when litigating a Civil Protection Order, can be the difference between success and failure. Accusations of domestic violence are taken very seriously in Ohio, and a Civil Protection Order is designed to protect individuals from further acts of abuse.

Unfortunately, this legal option is sometimes used inappropriately against individuals 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, our firm is equipped to deal with all issues involved in dealing with Civil Protection Orders.  In dealing with false allegations of abuse, and the improper use of Civil Protection Orders, our firm often employs various types of experts to assist in defending against the lies, such as forensic psychologists, private investigators and others.  The Law Office of Anthony W. Greco is prepared to aggressively represent its Clients’ concerns and interests involving Civil Protection Orders from the first day of representation through trial.