Obtaining a restraining order during the Covid-19 pandemic
by Jamison Koehler on July 31, 2020
In the days before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was relatively easy to obtain a temporary protection order (TPO), civil protection order (CPO) or restraining order in Washington, D.C.
You could appear in person at the Domestic Violence Intake Center in Room 4235 of D.C. Superior Court to swear out an affidavit. Alternatively, you could visit the Satellite Domestic Violence Intake Center located inside of the United Medical Center at 1328 Southern Avenue, S.E., Suite 311.
In both cases, you could appear in front of a judge that day to make your request. If the judge believed there was sufficient reason to believe that a criminal offense had occurred and/or you were in danger, he or she would issue a TPO and schedule a hearing on a CPO within two weeks.
With D.C. Superior Court still closed to most matters, the pandemic has complicated things considerably. Specifically, although you can still obtain the required protection, you must now do so remotely.
To initiate the process, you should contact the Domestic Violence Division (DVD) Clerk’s Office by phone at (202) 879-0157 (between the hours of 8:30 am and 5:00 pm) or by email at email@example.com.
Alternatively, you can contact the D.C. SAFE Crisis Response Team at (800) 407-5048. This office is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The request for a TPO will be heard remotely in D.C. Superior Court courtrooms 114 and 117. In other words, with both the judge and the person requesting the protective order (the “petitioner”) participating by video or phone, the judge will confirm the contents of the affidavit and ask potential questions. If the judge finds that there is sufficient cause to believe that a order is warranted, he or she will issue the TPO/stay-away order. The court will then schedule a court date (with dates currently being set for next fall) for a full hearing. The target of the TPO/stay-away – the “respondent” – will need to be served with notice of the court date, and the TPO/stay-away order will be valid during this time period. A violation of the order could result in criminal charges being filed.
In cases in which both parties agree to the CPO and want to enter into what is called a “consent CPO without admissions,” there is no need to wait until D.C. Superior Court opens again. Instead, the parties should email the proposed order to DVDHearings@dcsc.gov. Court staff will review the order and confirm that both parties consent to the terms. If so, the parties will receive instructions for appearing before a judge remotely in courtroom 119.
Information on Extreme Risk Protect Orders (ERPOS) can also be obtained by emailing DomesticViolenceManagement@dcsc.gov.