Columbus family lawyer Courtney Hanna discusses Ohio Civil Protection Orders.
Robyn Haines: A few of us ever imagined that we’re going to need help from the court system and law enforcement to protect us from a threat. And yet every day civil protection orders are granted. The reality of these documents is a little different from what we may see on our TV screens though. So for more, we turn to Courtney Hanna from Joseph and Joseph law. Good to have you back, Courtney.
Courtney Hanna: Thank you. Glad to be back.
Haines: So give us the essence of what a civil protection order is. I was kind of asking you before this, a lot of us hear the phrase restraining order, but it’s kinda different, right?
Hanna: There can be, there are different types of restraining orders and a civil protection order is one of those. A civil protection order is a civil way that people can go through the civil court when there has been an issue of domestic violence. We always hear if there’s an issue going on, call the police, make sure that you do that. But usually the person that has committed the domestic violence is gonna get thrown in jail for the night and they’re going to bond out the next day and then they’re going to be home until their trial or something of that nature has gone on.
So we look at the civil protection order as a civil way to help us. And what somebody can do is go down to the domestic relations court and they can seek this protection order. Stating that an incident happened that caused them an imminent fear of bodily harm or death, the domestic court can then order that person that created this harm be taken out of the house and taken away from the victim for seven days.
After that, then you go on and have a full hearing where both parties are entitled to come and plead their case as to whether or not this civil protection order continues for a longer period. Or whether there wasn’t enough evidence to grant that civil protection order in the first place.
Haines: So is anyone then entitled to at that point when you go in to say, you know, I would like one of these, is anyone entitled to it? Do you have to have some kind of proof at the beginning?
Hanna: You have to present your case to the judge as to what happens so that the judge knows that there is a necessity for it, because kicking somebody out of their house for seven days, just because you’re angry at night is not good enough. So what the court is looking for is that imminent bodily harm or threat of bodily harm. Did abuse occur? Were they threatening to abuse somebody or threatened to harm somebody?
And it’s usually a person that comes in what we call ex parte, meaning they come in by themselves and they plead their case to the judge and then they have that full hearing later on so that the person that it’s claimed against also has the opportunity to come and state their side of the story.
Haines: And so, okay. And that’s what I was going to say. So on the first, I guess go ahead. It would just be the one person claiming this, right and not having the other opportunity and then seven days. So how quickly do things get started as far as the process then? Is it an immediate talk with the judge?
Hanna: Yeah, you can go down the same day that you file for a civil protection order and get in and see the judge. We have duty judges in all the counties that are there to hear these emergency types cases, where they make themselves available because it’s a serious situation if there’s domestic violence occurring. We want to make sure that everybody’s safe – err on the side of caution and make sure that nobody’s in a situation where they’re scared to be in their own home.
Haines: And is, the other person then notified immediately. And how are they notified?
Hanna: They are usually notified by service by the sheriff. We’ll find them and until we know that they are notified, we would recommend that our clients find a safe place to be before that person has gotten notice. And we would follow up with the sheriff to make sure that that person has been served with the paperwork.
Haines: Is it always an initial seven days for the beginning until the hearing?
Hanna: That is typical – you’re supposed to have a hearing within seven days. It could be six. It could be longer. If the party that has the CPO against them requests a continuance, we don’t want to prejudice them by making it longer than it is if it wasn’t, it turns out not to have been a necessity in the first place. But if they want to seek counsel or they’re not available on that date and they’re okay with getting a continuance, the court would usually grant one.
Haines: Okay so if they do come back, how long does that then stay in place?
Hanna: So it can be anywhere from one to five years, depending on the severity of that CPO. And if you get a CPO for one year and that time’s up, you can go back then to the court and express your reasoning as to why it should be longer. Where some people find that after six months, they decide they could dismiss their CPO if they find that it’s no longer necessary.
Hanna: So it depends, but if it is valid – anywhere from one to five years.
Haines: And Courtney, um the risk, I guess, that people take, um, if they break this, is it ending in an arrest?
Hanna: Yes. If you have a CPO against somebody and their terms net, you call the police and let them know that it’s been violated and they will be arrested for the violation.
Haines: A difficult situation for anyone to be in. So it’s why illegal expert advice is so vital. Um, if you do find yourself in this situation, so the team at Joseph and Joseph knows how to navigate the system, you can reach out to them at all the information on the screen so, Courtney, thank you.
Hanna: Thank you.