A protection order is an official document from a judge. When a judge issues a protection order, they are ordering an abuser to stop certain actions which helps to keep the victim safe. The protection order can tell an abuser to stop actions like:
- Hurting you
- Threatening you
- Contacting you
- Coming to your home or workplace
The judge can order protection for up to five years. The order can also protect your children or other family and household members if they are in danger.
Having a protection order does not guarantee your safety. Sometimes, asking for a protection order can make the violence worse. Domestic violence advocates can help you understand the warning signs that can increase your risk. To decide if getting a protection order is a good legal option for you, talk to a lawyer.
Protection orders vs. restraining orders
You might recognize the term "restraining order." A protection order and a restraining order mean different things in Ohio. The major differences are:
- Relationships to other legal cases. A restraining order is always part of another legal case, like a divorce. The court uses a restraining order to keep one side from taking an action while the case is in progress. For example, a restraining order might keep someone from selling the family house or harassing the other party during a divorce. A protection order is separate from other legal cases.
- Consequences for violations. Violating a restraining order is not a crime. Violating a protection order is a crime. An abuser who violates a protection order may face jail time.
Types of protection orders
There are different types of protection orders in Ohio, including civil, criminal and temporary protection orders. There are four types of civil protection orders.
The type you can file for depends on:
- Your relationship to the abuser
- The type of abuse you experience
- The abuser’s age
- If there is an ongoing criminal case
The four types of civil protection orders are:
There does not need to be a criminal case or conviction against the abuser to file for any type of civil protection order.
Besides the four types of civil protection orders, Ohio has two more protection orders called:
- Domestic Violence Temporary Protection Order. If you are a victim in a criminal case of domestic violence and the abuser is a family or household member, you may be able to ask for a Domestic Violence Temporary Protection Order (DVTPO) as part of that criminal case. Many prosecutor's offices have victim's advocates that can help you with that process. If the court grants the DVTPO, it usually orders the abuser (called the defendant in the criminal case) to not come near or have any contact with the victim.
- Criminal Temporary Protection Order. If you are a victim of an assault, stalking, a sexually oriented offense or certain other crimes, and you are NOT a family or household member, you may be able to ask for a Criminal Protection Order (CRPO) as a part of that case. Many prosecutor's offices have victim's advocates that can help you with that process.
Your DVTPO or CRPO ends when the criminal case ends. That means the DVTPO or CRPO will end immediately if:
- The case is dismissed;
- The respondent is found not guilty; or
- The respondent is sentenced after being convicted or pleading guilty. (At sentencing you could ask the judge for a no contact order as part of probation).
Your DVTPO or CRPO also expires if you get a civil protection order or if a consent agreement is ordered because of the same act of violence or threat. If you have a DVTPO or CRPO and are interested in a civil protection order, you should speak with a lawyer to understand how filing could affect your safety.
The risks of getting a civil protection order
Requesting a civil protection order has benefits and risks. Your risk may increase if:
- Your abuser is dangerous. Abusers are often more dangerous during the legal case. You may have increased risk if your abuser:
- Seriously injured you,
- Threatened to hurt or kill you
- Strangled or "choked" you
- Stalked you
- Hurt or killed pets
- Suffers from a mental health issue
- Abuses alcohol or drugs
- Has guns or other weapons
- You have children. If the court decides to consider or grant parenting time, visitation or custody, getting a protection order is complicated. You may face risks like losing custody. Some advocates are mandatory reporters. Mandatory reporters have to call children’s services if they learn a child is in danger. Before telling your story, always ask if the advocate is a mandatory reporter.
- You have an active legal case. If you have an active, undecided legal case (like a custody case about your children) getting a protection order is complicated and risky. You should talk to a lawyer.
- There is a current criminal case involving the same action or actions that led you to seek the civil protection order. Filing for a civil protection order while there is a pending criminal case could have serious consequences. For example, the civil protection order could cancel the criminal protection order, the defendant can use the civil case to get evidence to use against you in the criminal case, or vice versa, or you could end up with no protection order at all. You should talk to a lawyer.
- You are an immigrant. If you are an immigrant, requesting a protection order is complicated—regardless of your immigration status. You should talk to a lawyer.
A protection order may not be the safest option for you. Talking to a lawyer or advocate can help you fully understand the risks you are facing.
How to get a civil protection order
Learn how to get a civil protection order by selecting a type of order below.
This project was supported by Grant Nos. 2019-WF-VA1-8855 and 2020-WF-VA1-8855 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Justice.