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I Filed for a Civil Protection Order (CPO) in Washington– Now What?

If you are in an abusive relationship or have been in an abusive relationship in the past and are fearing for your safety, you may be considering going down to the Washington DC Superior Court and filing for a Civil Protection Order (CPO).  If you are reading this blog post, there is a decent chance that you have filed one and are wondering what to do before the hearing you now have scheduled in two weeks.

First, let’s briefly review the process up until this point.  When you go the DC Superior Court on 500 Indiana Avenue, you will be directed to the fourth floor, where you will be told to fill out a complaint.  You will be handed a form and given a clipboard.

While you can certainly do this yourself, and many people do, having an experienced DC civil protection order order (CPO) attorney help you fill out a detailed pleading might be of value in terms of actually getting a CPO granted against the respondent.  The reason for this is because the actions you allege must constitute a crime in the District of Columbia and put you in reasonable fear of an imminent attack from the respondent. 

For the most part, unless you properly amend the pleadings, you will be limited to these allegations during your hearing in two weeks.  Many people like to try to bring up other things during the hearing, but most judges will not allow this, because the respondent did not get proper notice under the law.

After you complete the complaint, a clerk will review it and determine if you have preliminarily met the standard.  At this point, if you have asked for a temporary protection order (TPO), you will be taken down to a courtroom on the first floor, which is usually courtroom 119.  You will then wait until your name is called, and you will have to read the allegations to a magistrate judge.  Most of the time, you will be given a TPO, since the other party (respondent) is not there to challenge you.  You will then be told to come back in two weeks for a full evidentiary hearing or to have your case dismissed.

This next hearing is a full hearing where you will be required to testify.  The other party will get to testify.  You can call witnesses and cross-examine witnesses. If you do not have a lawyer, you will have to do all of this yourself, and the other party’s lawyer can cross-examine you.  If the other party does not have a lawyer, he or she will have to do these things by him or herself.  This again is a reason why you should seek a consultation with an experienced CPO attorney.  

One other thing to keep in mind is that, in a lot of these cases, if you file a protection order against a person, that person will file one against you in retaliation. While in some cases there is clearly no basis for doing this, you have to be prepared to defend yourself should this happen.  You do not want to find yourself in a position where your CPO is denied but the DC civil protection order against you is granted.

If you need assistance with a protective order (CPO) in Washington, DC, please feel free to contact the Law Offices of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC.

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