Civil Protection Order Hearing

Do you have any questions about civil protection order hearing? Get in touch with Scrofano Law, PC today. We can answer your questions.

What Are CPO Hearings?


A civil protection order (CPO) hearing is a legal proceeding that determines whether or not an individual can be granted a CPO.

The purpose of a CPO is to protect an individual from harm caused by an intimate partner or family member. It is a court order that prohibits the abuser from coming near you. It can also award temporary custody of your children or provide additional support, such as financial aid.

At a CPO hearing, a judge will review the evidence presented and determine if a CPO is justified. The hearing will typically take place within 15 days of the filing of the petition. However, a civil protection order hearing constitutes a distinct civil case, unrelated to any criminal protection order that might be issued in the context of a domestic violence case.

If you fear for your safety, you can apply for a CPO. You don’t need a lawyer present at the hearing. However, having skilled legal assistance can be beneficial for your case. Our domestic violence lawyer may be able to help you go through the procedure smoothly.

How Do I Know If I Need a CPO?


If you are experiencing harassment, threats, physical violence, or sexual abuse, you may need a CPO. You can also petition for a CPO if you have experienced stalking or had your property destroyed. You may seek a CPO against any of the following individuals:

  • A blood relative or an adopted family member

  • Marriage partner

  • Domestic partner

  • The person you have a child in common

  • The individual you share or have shared the same home

  • The person you have or previously had a dating relationship

  • The individual who had one of the relationships mentioned above with your current domestic partner

You can file a CPO petition at:

  • The Domestic Violence Clerk’s Office at the DC Superior Court

  • Any domestic violence intake center

The person filing a CPO request is the petitioner. The person who is the alleged abuser is the respondent.

In Washington, DC, there are two different types of protection orders:


Temporary Protection Orders (TPO)

A temporary protection order can be issued even if the respondent is not present. Because of that, it is also called an ex-parte order. Typically, the judge will hold a hearing on the same day the petition is filed or the next open court day. The judge will grant the order if immediate danger exists to your safety or welfare. It can also be granted if there is a danger to the welfare of your animal.

The initial temporary restraining order is typically valid for up to 14 days. However, it can be extended up to 28 days with good cause. It can even be extended for a longer duration with the consent of both parties.


Civil Protection Orders (CPO)

A final civil protection order can be issued under the following circumstances:

  • A court hearing takes place with both the respondent and the petitioner, presenting evidence and testimony.

  • A court hearing occurs where only you appear and the CPO can be issued even if the abuser fails to attend after proper notice was served.

  • The abuser consents to the issuance of the protection order.

A final CPO is valid for up to two years. The expiration date is included on the order. However, the length of the order can be modified, extended, or canceled (vacated). But, it is necessary that either party files a motion in court and demonstrates “good cause.”

Civil Protection Order Hearing Process


If you want to obtain a final protection order, it is crucial to attend your court hearing. Failure to appear will result in the expiration of your temporary order. You have the right to be represented by a lawyer during the hearing.

If the respondent doesn’t appear in court, the judge may issue a CPO in their absence or reschedule the hearing. If both parties are present, and the respondent doesn’t consent to issuing a CPO, a hearing will be conducted.

You will have the opportunity to testify and present any additional evidence. But, the alleged abuser can also testify on their own behalf.

If there is good cause for the judge to believe that the respondent committed or threatened to commit a criminal offense against you or any animal in your household, the CPO will be granted. If the evidence doesn’t support your claims, CPO will be denied.


What Evidence Is Necessary to Support a CPO Petition?

In order to obtain a CPO, you will need to provide evidence of the abuse. This evidence can include:

  • Witness statements

  • Police reports

  • Medical records

  • Photographs

It is important to provide as much evidence as possible. That can give the judge a clear understanding of the situation.

The burden of proof is “good cause.” The petitioner has to show the court that there is good cause for the judge to believe their side of the story. In other words, the judge must find that there is a greater than 50% chance the respondent committed the alleged offenses.

How Do I Fight a Protective Order?


If you have been served with a protection order and wish to fight it, you will need to attend a hearing. You will have the opportunity to present evidence and argue your case. It is important to note that a protection order is serious and should not be taken lightly. If you need to fight a CPO, consider seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Bear in mind that violating a TPO or a CPO is a criminal court matter. If that occurs, the petitioner may file a motion with the court alleging contempt of court. Every violation can result in up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000.00 fine (DC Code § 16-1005(g)). Committing a crime while violating the order can result in additional criminal charges. That means you can end up needing a DC criminal lawyer for your criminal case.


Can I Appeal the Judge’s Decision?

Appealing a CPO may be possible. However, a successful appeal has to involve either a procedural error, an incorrect application of the law, or another legal issue. Appealing procedure can be difficult. Hiring a skilled lawyer can be beneficial to your case.


Do I Need an Attorney for a CPO Hearing?

The CPO court hearings can be complex and emotional. But, with the right support, you can obtain the protection you need.

Our team at Scrofano Law, PC, is great at guiding clients through complex legal matters, including Civil CPO hearings. With years of experience in navigating these cases, our skilled lawyers can offer comprehensive assistance tailored to your unique situation. From building a strong case to providing legal representation during the CPO hearing, we are dedicated to protecting your rights.

If you have more questions on CPOs, reach out to Scrofano Law, PC, today. Our protection order lawyer can analyze your case and help you navigate the unfamiliar court process.


We Fight for Your Rights!