There are five kinds of protection orders in the state of Ohio, each with a unique purpose. So, there is bound to be a little confusion involved in determining what each one is used for, who issues it, and the consequences of a violation. However, one area where there should be no confusion, is in who is required to enforce the orders.
Police in the state are being criticized for not enforcing civil orders of protection, often issued in divorce or child custody cases. Because they aren’t issued by a criminal court, some cops seem to think they play no role in their enforcement. But, they are dead wrong.
“Historically, police haven’t wanted to get involved in custody or divorce disputes because they are seen as civil matters,” says a former Nashville police officer who trains police on protection order enforcement. “But when you have domestic violence involved, it’s a different issue.”
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, people are losing faith in the ability of the police to protect them in such cases, after being “shooed” away when they report a violation. Some are told to take their violation to the civil court from which the order was issued, others are simply told, “there’s nothing we can do.”
But, the cops who believe they have no authority to enforce these civil orders are seriously mistaken. The violation of any protection order is considered a misdemeanor offense, for which you can be immediately arrested. It doesn’t matter if that order was issued by a civil or criminal court.
Civil protection orders are typically issued in family courts by judges who see the potential for domestic violence, whether due to a history of such occurrences or the justified fear of the petitioner. They don’t require a crime to have been committed, unlike with criminal protection orders. They are temporary orders which are followed with a hearing that can result in a protection order that lasts up to 5 years.
When you are named in a protection order, whether civil or criminal, you must abide by the terms of the order, regardless of whether you feel they are just. Even if your ex-spouse says it’s okay for you to come over, you can still be arrested.
The tendency of police officers to disregard civil orders seems not to be widespread, though the state is taking steps to ensure all protection orders are filed, issued, and enforced with consistency.
If you’re named in a protection order, facing charges for violating such an order, or charged with domestic violence, a defense attorney can help you navigate the complicated legal system. Contact our offices today to discuss how we can help.