This article will provide guidance on How To File For An Order of Protection in Washington D.C. If the court finds that the defendant committed or threatened to conduct a criminal act such as violence, threats, or damage to property, it may approve the petitioner’s request for a civil protection order during a hearing in Washington, DC. It is the accused abuser’s responsibility to demonstrate to the court that visitation will not put the other parent or the child at risk if the court finds that the abuser committed an intrafamily crime. Custodial rights may be jeopardized if the perpetrator is unable to satisfy this need. Unless they can establish that their presence will not harm the other parents and their children’s well-being, the court may order visitation to be temporarily halted or monitored. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

Order of Protection

Respondents who violate a civil protection order’s limits risk paying hefty penalties or perhaps going to jail. It is illegal to violate a civil protection order, even if the responder is undertaking an act that is not itself a crime. As an example, if someone contacts a petitioner in violation of a civil protection order, the petitioner has the option of bringing criminal charges against the offending party. There is no criminal contempt penalty for a petitioner who encourages or even taunts a respondent to commit a crime.  Click here for information on How Rush Process Service Can Expedite Your Case.


As part of the Domestic Violence Division, the department processes requests for [A.] Anti-Stalking Orders (ASO); [B.] Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO); [C.] Domestic Violence Misdemeanour Cases(DVM), and [D.] Criminal Contempt Cases (CCC)

Answers to petitions should be sent by calling the Domestic Violence Division Clerk’s Office. Upon receipt of the notice, the respondent will be given the option to attend court in person or through videoconference. To the extent possible, a party should present any relevant exhibits, affidavits, and documents that support or counter the petition’s contents. If the petitioner so chooses, they may also enlist the assistance of eyewitnesses. Click here for information on How Service of Process Ensures A Solid Foundation.

For the most part, civil protection orders remain in force for a maximum of one year, although they may be extended under specific situations. Child support, property division, and spousal support may all be determined by a civil protection order. In the event of a divorce or child custody dispute, these court orders will be significant. The order made in a civil protection order might be made permanent, particularly when it comes to child custody and child maintenance. 


A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is issued as part of a civil proceeding and is typically effective for fourteen days. A judge has the authority to order a party to do or not to do anything during that limited period, which may include keeping away from and having no contact with the individual. 

If the individual submits a TRO Motion on the same day as the Complaint, it will be heard in JIC. Within twenty-one days of filing the TRO Motion, a court will consider it and schedule a hearing. The parties may be able to resolve their differences via early mediation. If the person submits a TRO Motion on any day after the filing of the Complaint, the TRO Motion will be heard by the judge assigned to the case permanently. Click here for information on How Process Servers Protect Your Rights: Myths Debunked.

At the hearing on the TRO Motion, one must demonstrate to the court that they have notified the opposing party. If the individual failed to inform the opposing party or if they failed to attend the hearing, the court may prolong the hearing or refuse the Motion. One should bring any proof or witness testimony in support of their Motion. If the judge issues a TRO and the other party breaches it, they may petition the court for civil contempt.


The Civil Protection Order (CPO) in the District of Columbia directs a person to stop a particular activity, such as harassment, assault, threatening, or other forms of ‘interpersonal violence.’

A CPO is a court order in which a judge can require a person to follow certain requirements, including but not limited to staying away from, not contacting, or committing any offense against the person requesting the CPO. The person filing the CPO is called a ‘petitioner’, and the person to who the CPO is filed is called a ‘respondent.’ The court can grant the CPO for a maximum of two years at a time. A CPO is issued after a respondent has had the opportunity, or has been provided the opportunity, to be present at a court hearing.

According to the child’s age, connection to the other party, and the alleged crime, the procedure to petition for or acquire a CPO might vary widely. In order to file a petition for a CPO on one’s own, a minor must be at least 16 years old; a minor between the ages of thirteen and fifteen can do so if they are a victim of an offense (or an animal that they own, possess, or control is a victim of animal cruelty). The respondent is not their parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent. They can also file if they allege they are a victim of sexual assault and the respondent is not their parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent.

Persons thirteen and older may have a petition for a CPO filed on their behalf by another individual.


According to the terms of the CPO, the court might direct someone to refrain from harming the person who requested the order, such as by keeping away from them, not contacting them, or otherwise offending them. ‘petitioner’ and ‘respondent’ are the terms used to describe the parties involved in a CPO. There is a two-year limit on the length of a CPO. CPOs may only be granted after a responder has been given a chance to appear in court. Motions for contempt may be made after a CPO is issued if the CPO is violated. Divorce, child custody, visitation, paternity, and child support cases involving the same parties, as well as some associated civil proceedings, are also handled by judges in the Domestic Violence Division when necessary.

According to the standard CPO, the respondent must ‘refrain from committing or threatening to commit criminal acts against the petitioner and other protected individuals.’ Respondents are required to ‘keep away from certain people and locations; engage in psychiatric, medical treatment or counseling programs; renounce ownership or use of property, and surrender any guns they may own as a condition for receiving treatment. As a last option, a CPO might grant temporary custody of a young child and establish visitation rights to ensure the petitioner’s well-being and security. The respondent to a civil protection order may be ordered to avoid any contact with the petitioner, to attend therapy, or even to leave the house they lived in with the petitioner in the past. An award of the respondent’s legal expenses may also be made by the court.

In Washington, DC, a civil protection order may also ban the abuser from owning or having a handgun. To prevent the respondent from associating with the petitioner and their children, the court’s Supervised Visitation Center employs a stringent procedure, including staggered arrivals. In certain circumstances, a civil protection order may establish visitation restrictions or supervised visitation. 


The Intrafamily Offenses and Anti-Stalking Orders Amendment Act of 2020 is the most current legislation in the District of Columbia regarding the issue and scope of CPOs. While the new legislation continues to protect victims of sexual assault and abuse, it substitutes household members, intimate partners, and family members for the three categories of intra-family crimes.

The new legislation increases the deadlines for both CPOs and temporary restraining orders (TPOs). It expands coverage to include incidents of animal cruelty and sex trafficking victims. It enables minors to have more autonomous access to the protective system. It requires the MPD to send at least six officers to serve stay-away orders. Finally, the new legislation establishes a unique and distinct mechanism for dealing with stalking for individuals who do not fit into one of the three categories defined by ‘intrafamily crimes.’

Petitioners seeking interim child support or other financial help from the court should present all supporting papers, such as tax returns, bank statements, and other financial records, to the hearing. A judge can issue an Anti-Stalking Order (ASO) that directs an individual to refrain from contacting or harming the person who requested the ASO or to remain away from the person who requested the ASO. One who files an ASO does so as ‘petitioner,’ while the other party against whom the ASO is filed is known as ‘respondent.’. If the petitioner alleges that the respondent is stalking them, the court may order an ASO to protect their safety, provided that there has been at least one occurrence in the past ninety days. In order for an ASO to be granted, the respondent must have been given a chance to appear in court. Motions for contempt may be made after an ASO is issued if the ASO is violated.


Excessively dangerous individuals may have their guns, ammo, registration certificates, concealed pistol permits, and dealer licenses seized through an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), a court order. There are a few different ways to make this request: by someone who has a close family connection to the other party (either biological or adopted), a member of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), a mental health professional, or by cohabiting with the other party. When a TPO is issued against a respondent, the petitioner is responsible for serving the TPO on the respondent. Respondents may be served by the MPD if the petitioner provides an address in the District of Columbia as a basis for the request.

In the case of any kind of ‘domestic relationship,’ a CPO, also known as a restraining order, is normally given for ‘good reason.’ If the parties are connected by blood or marriage, or they share a kid, they are said to be living together. Until April 2021, CPOs were limited to a two-year term with the possibility of renewal for a good reason. A violation of a CPO is punishable by up to a year in prison. For breaking a CPO or being found in contempt of court, the maximum punishment might be a hundred and eighty days in prison and a USD1,000 fine. 

The individual making the request for an order is referred to as a ‘petitioner. It is the ‘respondent’ to whom the order is addressed. It is called a ‘cross-petitioner’ in circumstances when the respondent also seeks a CPO against the petitioner.

DC Superior Court is limited to instances where the petitioner is either a resident of DC or a D.C. government agency employee or if the underlying violation took place in DC and the petitioner is in that agency’s legal care.  D.C. lawmakers enacted legislation in December 2018 to make the city and its inhabitants safer by taking away firearms from anyone deemed dangerous to themselves or others. ‘Red Flag’ legislation permits the District’s Superior Court to issue Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), which call for the temporary confiscation of weapons and ammunition from potentially dangerous individuals. The Petition must include facts supporting the claim that the person in possession of firearms or ammunition is a danger to themselves or others.

A judge may be summoned within one business day, even if the requester does not know about the matter at the time of the request. A temporary ERPO may be issued by the court if it considers that the individual presents a severe risk to their safety or the safety of others, pending the outcome of a formal hearing.

In order to receive a one-year injunction, the requester will have to return to court within fourteen days for another hearing. Only after the petitioner has been served by MPD and both parties have had an opportunity to submit their evidence to the court can the court determine whether or not to grant a one-year injunction.


The individual subject of the ERPO will be contacted by the police, and any guns and ammunition that are located will be returned to them. If a search warrant is required, one may be granted. The petition and the interim injunction will be delivered to the individual by the police.

The police would take the weapons and ammunition if they were not seized as a consequence of a Temporary ERPO. It is possible to extend this order for up to a year. No one may be arrested or punished for owning or carrying a weapon or ammunition illegally if they peacefully relinquish them in response to an ERPO.


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1. A WebEx hearing will be conducted if the respondent is required to attend remotely; instructions for logging in will be included in the notice.

2. A court cannot force a party to therapy or drug treatment, pay money, to resolve custody concerns, or evict someone under a temporary restraining order.

3. Room 4510 of the Domestic Violence Division of the Justice Department may be found at 500 Indiana Avenue NW. At this time, DVD is accepting all flings through the internet, mail, or email to during COVID-19 remote operations. Scan the QR code on the right with your mobile phone camera to access online forms.

4. A petition for a CPO can be filed by a petitioner who is related to a respondent by:

  • Blood; 
  • Adoption; 
  • Legal custody; 
  • Marriage; 
  • Having a child in common; 
  • Being the child of an intimate partner; 
  • Domestic Partnership; 
  • Sharing a residence within the past year and maintaining a close relationship; or 
  • Being, having been, or a Respondent seeking to be in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship. 

A petition for a CPO can be filed by a petitioner who alleges experiencing a crime by a respondent, including: 

  • Sexual assault; 
  • Sex trafficking of children; or 
  • Trafficking in labor or commercial sex acts

5. The process to file for or obtain a CPO for a minor child depends on the child’s age, relationship to the other party, and type of offense they allege. 

A minor who is at least 16 years old may file a petition for a CPO on their own; 

 A minor who is 13-15 years old can file on their own if they file: 

Against an intimate partner and they are a victim of an offense (or an animal that they own, possess, or control is a victim of animal cruelty); 

Allege they are a victim of sexual assault and the respondent is NOT their parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent; or o If they file as a victim of sex trafficking of children. 

 A minor at least 13 years old may have another person file a petition for a CPO on their behalf. That other person must (1) be at least 18 years of age and be related to the minor by blood, adoption, legal custody, marriage, or domestic partnership, or (2) be a sexual assault youth victim advocate

6. 16-1005 of the DC Code (c).

7. Who can seek an ERPO:

  • Family Members
  • Guardians
  • Domestic Partners
  • Romantic Partners or Dates
  • Parent of a Child in Common
  • Roommates
  • Police Officers
  • Mental Health Professionals

. File the petition in person at:

D.C. Superior Court
500 Indiana Ave. NW, Room 4510
Washington, DC 20001


United Medical Center
1328 Southern Ave. SE, Room 311
Washington, DC 20032


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