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Violating a restraining order is a serious offense, which can result in jail time and heavy fines. Ohio law enforcement agencies are required to enforce legally valid restraining orders issued by any jurisdiction in the state or the country, and they will usually arrest violators on the spot. If you are the subject of a restraining order, you should educate yourself about the consequences of violating any of the order’s terms.
You may be the subject of a restraining order if the alleged victim can show that you put him or her in a “reasonable fear of imminent harm” through your words or actions. Additionally, a restraining order may apply if there’s evidence that you actually harmed the victim, which may consist in kicking, slapping, choking, pushing, sexually assaulting, forcibly restraining, tearing clothing, or trying to injure him or her with a weapon, object, or vehicle.
In Ohio, there are two kinds of restraining orders: civil protection orders (CPO) and temporary criminal protection orders (TPO). Both kinds of protection orders are designed to protect domestic abuse victims from their abusers, which may include:
A judge may issue a CPO after a hearing that the domestic abuse victim can request by petitioning the court. A TPO may also be issued in this way, but it usually gets issued at the request of a prosecutor or law enforcement officer working on a criminal case. For example, a TPO may be issued against the suspect during a rape case.
The amount of evidence needed for a court to issue a CPO is less than the amount of evidence needed to prove criminal domestic violence charges. If the victim shows that abuse occurred based on a “preponderance of the evidence,” the court must issue a CPO. To prove domestic violence charges, however, a prosecutor must prove that abuse occurred “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
A CPO lasts for up to 5 years from the date of issuance, whereas a TPO will only last for the duration of the criminal case with which it is associated. Both types of restraining orders may restrict the abuser’s behavior and movements. For example, the abuser will not be able to approach the victim within a certain distance of the party’s home or place of work.
Significantly, a CPO may also evict the abuser from the victim’s home, award temporary child custody, compel the abuser to pay support to the victim, or order both parties to attend counseling. A TPO may not contain any of these provisions—it only serves to restrict the abuser’s ability to contact or approach the victim.
The penalties for violating both CPOs and TPOs are outlined in section 2919.27 of the Ohio Code. Specifically, the statute states that no person may recklessly violate the terms of a restraining order. This means that if you accidentally violate the restraining order—if you and your former girlfriend bump into each other at a store, for example—you probably won’t be charged with violating the restraining order.
But if you intentionally violate the terms of your CPO or TPO, or if you do something that you know would likely result in you violating the restraining order, you may face criminal charges. If convicted, you will face the following penalties:
If you commit a felony whilst violating the restraining order, you may face third-degree felony charges that could result in jail time of 9 months to 5 years and fines reaching $10,000. In some cases, you may be ordered to wear a GPS device that allows the authorities to track your movements upon your release from jail.
It’s possible to avoid the harshest penalties for violating a restraining order if you retain the services of a seasoned legal professional to defend against the prosecutor’s charges. Ideally, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as you learn that you are subject to a CPO or TPO.
At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we have extensive experience advising and defending clients who are embroiled in domestic violence disputes. Call us right away at for a free and confidential consultation of your case.