Civil protection orders (“CPOs”) are a means for victims of menacing by stalking or sexually-oriented offenses to seek protection from the court system (See R.C. 2903.214). In Ohio CPO proceedings, the victim (the “petitioner”) files a petition for a CPO against their stalker or abuser (the “respondent”).
Preparing a Statement and Opening a Case
Preparing the petition for a CPO requires the petitioner to complete forms including a sworn statement describing the respondent’s misconduct. The completed petition must be hand-filed with the clerk of courts of the common pleas court of the county in which the victim resides. The clerk will open a new case, assign a case number, and also randomly assign a judge and/or magistrate judge to preside over the action. Unlike ordinary civil cases, CPO cases are sealed and cannot be viewed online by the general public.
In the Courtroom
The clerk will endeavor to schedule an ex parte hearing—a hearing at which the respondent is not present—with the magistrate as soon as possible, if not the same day that the petition for CPO is filed. During the ex parte hearing, the magistrate will review the petition and may also require the petitioner to testify in support of the petition. If the magistrate grants the petition at the hearing, then the petitioner receives a temporary ex parte CPO, which will protect the petitioner until a full hearing on the matter can be scheduled.
The full CPO hearing will be scheduled as soon as possible after the ex parte hearing. The respondent will be made aware of the date and time of the full hearing and will have the opportunity to appear to dispute the petitioner’s request for a CPO. The parties may also choose to stipulate to the terms of an agreed CPO during the full hearing. After the full hearing, the petitioner’s request for a CPO is either granted or denied. If the petition is granted, the CPO can last for up to five (5) years.
After the Hearing
If the petition is granted, the clerk’s office will issue a final CPO to the petitioner, and it will send a copy of the CPO to law enforcement to be indexed. This original CPO will be immediately identifiable to police, and it should be kept on the petitioner’s person at all times. As part of the terms of the final CPO, the court will order the respondent to stop engaging in the abusive and/or stalking behavior. The court may also prohibit the respondent from having any contact with the petitioner in any manner, as well as forbid the respondent from going to the petitioner’s school, work, or home. The granting of a CPO also automatically requires the respondent to forfeit all firearms in their possession to the sheriff’s office.
If you have questions about whether you need a CPO, then you should contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. CPOs may protect victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence, or sufferers of harassment, but a CPO may not necessarily always be the appropriate means for relief in all circumstances. You should contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction for additional information about this area of the law.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is merely intended to provide a very general overview of a certain area of the law. Nothing in this article is intended to create an attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. You should not rely on anything in this article without first consulting with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. If you have specific questions about your matter, please contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.