You Can’t Go Home Again: Washington, D.C. Civil Protection Order (CPO) May Bar You from Your Own Dwelling
Civil Protection Orders (CPO) can cause the recipient many headaches, but perhaps nothing hits closer to home than being banned from your own house or apartment. While this is a common condition of a CPO issued in Washington, D.C. or Virginia, it is most commonly seen in cases where the petitioner and respondent are actually living together. But a recent holding by the D.C. Court of Appeals allows the judge issuing a CPO to force someone to vacate their home even if the parties live in separate apartments.
In the case of Salvaterra v. Ramirez, the CPO parties lived in the same apartment building but in different apartments. Ms. Ramirez filed a CPO against Mr. Salvattera, and the CPO was granted. As in every CPO case, the petitioner can request that the respondent abide by certain conditions, other than simply not contacting or staying away from her. In some cases, these conditions include forcing the respondent to get drug or alcohol counseling, take an anger management class, pay child support or restitution. In this particular case, Ms. Hernandez asked the court to force Mr. Salvaterra to move out of their apartment building. And the court did just that.
D.C. law give judges fairly wide discretion when fashioning a CPO. In this case, the court reasoned that it had the power to order a respondent to leave his home in order to ensure the effectiveness of the stay-away order. Since the apartment building shared by Ms. Ramirez and Mr. Salvaterra had only one stair case, and the parties only lived one floor apart, the court determined that it would be inevitable for the two to cross paths from time to time. Thus, Mr. Salvaterra found himself out on the street.
Conditions imposed as part of DC Civil Protection Orders are often the most onerous part of the order. While many respondents have no problem staying away from or not contacting a petitioner, they often have a problem with the additional conditions. Whether a judge grants the conditions requested by a petitioner normally depend upon the facts of each case, and some judges are more willing than others to impose additional restrictions. In many cases, respondents will simply agree to the imposition of a DC CPO simply to avoid the conditions requested. Your D.C. criminal or CPO lawyer will negotiate on your behalf to avoid the conditions, but that usually means going down without a fight, and simply consenting to the CPO. If a respondent truly has no desire to contact the girlfriend, family member, spouse, etc., then consenting to the CPO may be simple. But for those who want the hearing they are entitled to, the risks must be weighed.
Whether to contest a CPO and have a hearing, often comes down to the likelihood that a judge will grant the conditions requested in the petition. Your D.C. CPO lawyer will advise you of your options and the possible scenarios, and help you assess the risks.
If you have been served with a notice of a CPO hearing, you should contact a lawyer with experience negotiating and defending CPO actions. Contact JPMLegal for a free consultation.