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Ongoing attack by ex-wife's use of the CPO process

After my client was able to plea down a domestic violence in Texas, he and his ex-wife were divorced.  He returned to Ohio.  His ex-wife followed.  The ex-wife's problems originally started when she starred in a pornographic video.  She now believed he was responsible for publishing her activity here in Ohio.

 She filed a request for a civil protection order.  My client went to the hearing but was unable to navigate the legalese and properly defend himself.  He asked for a continuance to hire counsel.

He hired me and we returned to show the wife could not provide any reason she should fear harm.  We were able to show my client just wanted to get on with his life.  The order was lifted and they both went their separate ways.


Bad decision on CPO

My client was served with an initial ex-parte CPO and hired me to defend him.  He also had a divorce attorney who was less aggressive regarding litigating the criminal defense aspects of a CPO hearing.

My client wanted to see his kids.  Often, this blinds clients to the eventual outcome.  Often, a CPO application is a way to force the petitioner's vision of visitation.  If the respondent wants badly enough to see his kids, he will often consent to a CPO as long as visitation is included.

Bad idea!

Having negotiated a great visitation schedule and then consenting to the CPO, my client later hired me to defend against an allegation of a violation.


Ohio Civil Protection Orders

Violations of the CPO






Violation of a Civil Protection Order

First off, the charge is that you violated the order of the court not to contact the petitioner.  It has nothing to do with the reasons for the CPO.  It is a violation of a court order.

While in most cases a violation of a CPO is a first degree misdemeanor, don't let that fool you.  A first degree misdemeanor is punishable by a $1000.00 fine and six months in jail.  Further, you will be arrested and held in jail, without bond, until you can be brought in front of a judge.  The judge will then set bond.

Don't forget that if there is a pending charge, if you are on probation or if there is any other issue in any other court, a CPO violation can cause those courts to initiate action on their own, separate from the CPO violation.  You might find yourself facing a probation violation based on issues surrounding the CPO.

So what's a violation?

The order says don't do something.  The petitioner, the person that obtained the CPO, says you did.  The petitioner takes their case to a local police department, makes their case to an officer.  The officer will call you.

For gosh sakes!  Read my pages on why you should NOT talk to the police officer. 

Your right to remain silent: CLICK HERE



Cell phones and violations

Cellular phones are a police officer's friend.  If you texted when you should not have texted, you're in trouble.  The officer will subpoena the cell phone records.  If you called, you're in trouble.  Again, a subpoena will uncover cell phone activity.  If you were in the area of the petitioner, the officer may find that, too, as your cellular phone sends your location data and, again, it can be subpoenaed.  Don't have the GPS turned on?  They know what cell tower you were near.  Your cellular telephone is much like a GPS ankle bracelet. 

If the officer agrees there is a violation ...

If the officer agrees there is a violation, you will be arrested, perhaps then and there.  If the officer suspects you may represent a danger, they will be coming for you.  If the officer believes such aggressive behavior is unwarranted, the officer may obtain an arrest warrant and ask you to turn yourself in.

You are likely to be held for an appearance in front of a judge.  That means you could spend days in jail.

The charge

A violation of a CPO is most often a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1000.00.

Do not underestimate this charge.  You might not go to jail for a domestic violence misdemeanor only to find yourself doing six months on a CPO violation.

The facts of the CPO don't have to be used.  You violated an order of the court not to do something to the petitioner.  Why that order was granted is not in play.  It is the violation of the order that is being tried.

But ...

Often, a charge is based on terribly unclear facts.  For example, let say a ex-husband has to stay away from his ex-wife because she obtained a CPO.  The CPO says that ex-husband can text ex-wife regarding the children.  The husband needs certain information from the wife about the kids and she is being exceedingly difficult about giving the information to the ex-husband.  After a dozen or so text messages, she goes to the cops and files charges.  He gets arrested.  Guilty?  I don't think so.  It depends on what the jury will decide.

It is very easy for something allowed by the CPO to suddenly turn into something that triggers a violation.






Bad CPO language

My client was allowed to text his ex-wife about the kids.  The kids were involved in a motor vehicle accident.  My client needed medical records to give to the insurance company.  The ex-wife knew she was angering my client by refusing to send the records.  Eventually, my client texted some things he should not have said.

Luckily, we were in a court that allowed for the facts of the dispute.  Remember, a violation of a CPO is a violation of an order of the court.  Facts around why the CPO was issued are normally not in play.

The judge saw that the ex-wife, the petitioner for the CPO, was heavily involved.  The case was resolved with my client's plea to a non-domestic, non-violence-related charge and he was put on probation.