Should I enter into a “CPO without admissions” in D.C.?

by Jamison Koehler on February 5, 2019
CPO without admission in D.C.

A person who has been served with a civil protection order (CPO) petition in D.C. can enter into a “consent CPO without admissions.” According to this arrangement, the CPO is granted to the “petitioner” (the person requesting the court order) without a hearing.  In exchange, there is no adverse finding of facts against the “respondent” (the person who is the subject of the order). 

Such an option may be in the interest of the other parties. The court, for example, resolves a case on its docket without a lengthy hearing.  And the petitioner enjoys the protections of the CPO without being required to prove his/her case. 

There can also be advantages to a CPO without admissions for the respondent.  For example, if the allegations are serious and the petitioner has a strong case, it might be in the respondent’s interest to avoid having the court come to an adverse finding of the facts.  

Weighing against such advantages are potential disadvantages.  The entry into force of a CPO against a person subjects that person to potential criminal charges should the person be found in violation.  It does not matter that the respondent consented to the CPO.  The maximum penalty if found guilty of violating a CPO is 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Criminal contempt has the same penalty.  Moreover, in addition to the social stigma attached to CPOs, many employers ask potential hires whether or not they have ever been the subject of a CPO or restraining order. In other words, entry into force of the CPO could have consequences far beyond the pendency of the actual order.

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