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Know the Laws: Ohio

UPDATED June 11, 2012

Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Orders

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An SSOOPO is a civil order designed to protect you from someone from harming, attempting to harm, threatening, following, stalking, harassing, contacting, or forcing sexual relations upon you.

back to topWhat is a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order?

If your relationship with the abuser or the type of abuse you experienced does not qualify for protection under a domestic violence protective order and the abuser is over 18 years old, you may be eligible for a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order.*  You might also hear it called an SSOOPO or a stalking/sexually oriented offense civil protection order. Here we will call it an SSOOPO.

SSOOPOs are designed to protect you from someone from harming, attempting to harm, threatening, following, stalking, harassing, contacting, or forcing sexual relations upon you.**  Like domestic violence protective orders, there are temporary and final SSOOPOs.  A temporary order may be granted by a judge if s/he believes that it is necessary for your safety and protection or that you are in immediate and present danger.  The temporary order lasts for 10 days or until the full court hearing.***

A final SSOOPO can be granted only after a full court hearing where the victim and abuser both get a chance to present evidence, witnesses and testimony.  If granted, a final order may last for up to 5 years and may be renewed after that time.****

* Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.214(C)(1)
** See Ohio Legal Services website
*** Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.214(D)(1) & (2)(a)
**** Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.214(E)(2)(a) & (b)

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back to topAm I eligible to file for a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order?

You may apply for a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order (SSOOPO) regardless of your relationship to the person who is stalking or sexually abusing you. You do not have to know the person or be related to the person.

To get an SSOOPO, you must show that the abuser (known as the “respondent” in court) has:

  • stalked you according to the legal definition of the word. Legally, the definition of "menacing by stalking" includes a pattern of conduct* that the stalker knows will cause the victim mental distress or cause the victim to believe that the stalker will cause physical harm to him/her.** Just because the abuser annoyed or alarmed you does not mean you have been stalked in the legal sense. According to the law, menacing by stalking must involve a pattern of conduct (repeated acts); or 
  • committed a sexually oriented offense.***            
Examples of "menacing by stalking" may include:
  • Following you;
  • Orally threatening you;
  • Making harassing phone calls;
  • Sending threatening or harassing letters;
  • Vandalizing your property;
  • Hurting your pets; or
  • Any other pattern of conduct that a stalker uses to frighten you or cause you mental distress.
Examples of a sexually oriented offense may include:
  • Rape by someone you know or a stranger;
  • Unlawful sexual contact with a minor; or
  • Drugging the victim before engaging in sexual acts.
When filing for an SSOOPO, you must be specific about what the respondent has done to you.

* “Pattern of conduct” is defined as two or more actions or incidents closely related in time. It does not matter if the stalker was convicted of a crime based on those actions/ incidents or not. Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.211(D)(1)
** Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.211(A)(1)
*** Ohio Rev. Code § 2950.01

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back to topWhat are the steps for obtaining a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order?

The steps for getting a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order (SSOOPO) are similar to the steps involved with obtaining a domestic violence protection order.  See What are the steps for obtaining a protection order?  The only difference is that the petition for an SSOOPO must be filed with the general division, not the domestic relations division, of the court of common pleas.*  Be sure to tell the clerk you need the forms to file for a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order.

* Ohio Legal Services website

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back to topWhat types of protection can I get from a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order?

A stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order (SSOOPO) offers some different protections than a domestic violence civil protection order.

All SSOOPOs prohibit the stalker or sexual offender from doing the following things to you:

  • harming or attempting to harm,
  • threatening,
  • following,
  • stalking,
  • harassing,
  • contacting, or
  • forcing sexual relations.*

The order can also:

  • prohibit the abuser from entering your home, school, business, or place of employment or that of any of your family or household members;**
  • order that the respondent wear electronic monitoring, as long as you include in your petition:
    • that at any time before you filed the petition, the respondent engaged in conduct that would cause a "reasonable person" to believe that her health, welfare, or safety was at risk,
    • a description of the nature and extent of that conduct, and
    • that the respondent presents a continuing danger to you;***
  • require the abuser to stay a certain number of blocks or yards away from you,
  • prohibit the abuser from shutting off any utilities or removing or damaging any of your property or pets, canceling any insurance or health benefits, interfering with your phone service or mail delivery.*

However, an SSOOPO, unlike a domestic violence protection order, may not include any requirements concerning spousal support, child support, child custody or visitation, or the use or possession of personal property or motor vehicles.*

* See Ohio Legal Services website
** Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.214(E)(1)(a)
*** Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.214(C)(2)

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back to topWhat happens if the abuser violates the SSOOPO?

If you believe the SSOOPO has  been violated, you can call the police.  An abuser can be arrested for violating an SSOOPO.  Also, if your order had an electronic monitoring requirement, the judge can require that he be electronically monitored for up to 5 years (in addition to any other sentence he gets for the violation).*

* OH Rev. Code § 2919.27(B)

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