In the District of Columbia – Should I consent to a Civil Protection Order/ Restraining Order?
Temporary Protective Order in the District of Columbia
So you got into a fight with your girlfriend and she went to the Domestic Violence Unit of D.C. Superior Court to file a Temporary Protection Order / Civil Protection Order against you . You got served with the petition. 14 days later you are scheduled for the actual civil protection order hearing in Courtroom 113 or Courtroom 114 in the District of Columbia. The Attorney Advisor is assigned by the Court to go over your options. Now you must make a decision of whether to consent (without admissions) to staying away from her for a year or have a hearing where a Judge will hear testimony about the allegations.
To Consent or Not to Consent is the Question
You have dated her for a couple years, and it was rocky throughout the whole relationship anyway. Why not just agree to stay away from her and go about your way?Sometimes, it is not as simple as it may seem. Even if you don’t admit to any allegations she wrote in the petition, consenting to a Civil Protection Order may have collateral consequences. It may affect your security clearances, restrict or prohibit you from owning firearms, complicate a background /employment check, etc.
Resolving the Civil Protection Order in the District of Columbia
There are four ways to resolve a Civil Protection order: (1) have an evidentiary hearing and let the judge decide; (2) consent to the order and admit to the allegations contained in the petition; (3) consent to the order without admitting to the allegations in the petition (not always available); or (4) civil agreement between the parties which lays out the terms of the stay away such as length of the stay away, spousal and/or child support, division of properties, etc.
Other Consequences of a Civil Protection Order in the District of Columbia
Although a civil protection order is civil in nature, it may have criminal consequences. For example, if the respondent is on probation or parole, allegations contained in the petition if proven in an evidentiary hearing have criminal elements to it, it may impact the respondent’s probation / parole status. In addition, such an order is relevant in any future custody case. In the District of Columbia, there is a presumption of joint custody. It is presumed that both parents are fit and capable of assuming custody of any minor children. However, if there is a Civil Protection Order entered against one party, the presumption is rebutted. That means the respondent will never stand equal footing with the Petitioner relating to the custody of the children. If the Civil Protection Order was consented to, this presumption is not rebutted. The respondent maintains his ability to seek joint and legal custody of the children.
Consult an Attorney before you Make a Decision
So before you decide on how to proceed with a Civil Protection Order, it’s always best to consult with an attorney. Call us for a free telephone consultation. (202) 455-5610.
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