Is Violating a Protection Order a Felony in Ohio?

A protection order is issued by a court and establishes specific terms the person named (the respondent) must abide by. It is usually sought as part of a domestic violence case when a member of the respondent’s household or family seeks relief from future harm. Essentially, the order is a way to provide additional protection to the alleged victim (the petitioner).

In Ohio, if a respondent violates a protection order, they could be arrested and charged with a crime. Violations are considered either misdemeanors or felonies, and the level depends on the facts of the case.

Who Can Request a Protection Order?

In matters involving domestic violence civil protection orders (DV CPO), the petitioner may be a member of the respondent’s family or household.

Ohio law defines a family or household member as:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • People living together as spouses
  • Parent or child
  • Foster parent or foster child
  • Natural parents of the same child
  • People related by blood or marriage

When seeking a DV CPO, the alleged victim must file a petition with the court, claiming that the respondent committed an act of domestic violence against them.

An act of domestic violence includes:

  • Attempting to cause or recklessly causing injury
  • Threatening an individual and making them fear they are at risk of imminent injury
  • Committing an act of child abuse
  • Committing a sex crime

Before a permanent DV CPO is issued, the court will hold a hearing where the respondent and the petitioner can present their sides of the story. If a preponderance of evidence proves that the respondent has placed or might place the petitioner at risk of harm, a judge will grant the order.

What Conditions Are Part of a DV CPO?

When a DV CPO is issued, it contains a list of conditions that either prohibit the respondent from engaging in specific conduct or require them to take certain actions. The exact terms depend on the facts of the case, what the petitioner has asked for, and what the court deems necessary.

A few examples of DV CPO conditions include:

  • Prohibiting the respondent from contacting the petitioner
  • Ordering the respondent to refrain from abusing the petitioner
  • Evicting the respondent from the home
  • Ordering the respondent to stay away from the petitioner’s residence, school or place of employment
  • Prohibiting the respondent from making anyone else violate the order
  • Making the respondent attend counseling

In Ohio, a protection order is valid until the date listed on the document. However, it cannot expire more than 5 years after it’s been issued. That means the respondent must adhere to the conditions of a DV CPO for quite some time.

What Happens When a Protection Order Is Violated?

A DV CPO is court-ordered, which means a violation is considered a serious matter, as the violator is going against a judge’s commands.

The charges and penalties a respondent may face for failing to adhere to the protection order are as follows:

  • First-degree misdemeanor: A first-time violation is charged at this level. The conviction penalties include up to 180 days in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
  • Fifth-degree felony: If a respondent has been previously convicted of violating a protection order, they could be charged at this level. A conviction carries with it up to 1 year in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
  • Third-degree felony: A respondent will face this level of charge if the offense they committed that violated the order is a felony. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to 36 months in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.

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