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Consequences of Violating a Civil Protection Order in DC

It is important to understand all of the provisions of a civil protection order (CPO), if a judge has granted one against you as a violation can lead to an additional criminal charge. This offense can either be for violating the specific protection order or a criminal charge of contempt, or for violating a court order in general. These criminal charges are punishable by $1,000 fine, 180 days in jail, or both, which makes it imperative that you understand exactly what you are to refrain from doing if a judge has issued a civil protection order against you.

It is important that you follow the directives within the order so that you do not find yourself in violation. The person that requested and was granted the CPO, the petitioner, can notify the police or file a motion for criminal contempt if he or she thinks that you have violated the order. If you have a CPO against you, it is best to avoid the other person or otherwise ensure that you are in full compliance with the requirements of the CPO.

What Takes Place If a Violation is Reported

If a petitioner believes that a respondent has violated a temporary protection order or a civil protection order, the petitioner can file a motion for civil contempt or a motion to adjudicate criminal contempt. A petitioner files a motion for civil contempt to get the court to enforce compliance with the original order. A petitioner may choose file a motion to adjudicate criminal contempt if he or she wants the respondent to be found in violation of the civil protection order.

The consequences of these motions, if the respondent is found to have violated the order, can be serious. The judge can punish you with up to 180 days in jail, fine you up to $1,000.00, or both if you are found to be in contempt. Alternatively, the judge can refer the motion to the prosecutor’s office for potential prosecution of a violation of a civil protection order charge. All of these possibilities stress the importance of following the directions in the civil protection order.

Motion For Contempt

If a petitioner files a motion for contempt, the government files a criminal charge of contempt or the government files a criminal charge for violation of a civil protection order, there will be a hearing for the judge to determine whether there has been a violation of the civil protection order. If a judge finds that a respondent has disobeyed an order of the court, the respondent will be found to be in criminal contempt. Criminal contempt carries potential penalties of 180 days in jail, $1,000 fine, or both.

Benefit of a Lawyer

If a petitioner accuses you of violating a civil protection order, it is wise to contact a lawyer immediately. Even though the petitioner may initially file a motion to adjudicate criminal contempt, the court may refer the motion to the United States Attorney’s Office. This could potentially expose you to criminal prosecution by the government for violating a civil protection order.

Your attorney will gather evidence to help refute any claim that you violated a civil protection order. This may include statements from witnesses that were present at the time of the alleged violation, phone records to show that you did not contact the petitioner via telephone, and/or documentation from the original CPO hearing to show that you were never instructed to refrain from the behavior that you actually engaged in.

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