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Legal Information: District of Columbia

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of April 5, 2024

What types of anti-stalking orders are there?

There are two types of anti-stalking orders (ASOs) in Washington, D.C., a temporary ex parte anti-stalking order and a final anti-stalking order.

Temporary (Ex Parte) Anti-Stalking Order (TASO)
When you file a petition for an ASO, you can request that the court issue a temporary order without giving prior notice to the respondent, known as an “ex parte” order. A judge will hold an ex parte hearing on the day you file your petition unless it was filed too late in the day to review. In that case, a hearing on the ex parte order will be held the next day the court is open.

A judge can issue a TASO if you show that your safety, the safety of a household member, or the safety of your animal is immediately endangered by the respondent.1 The first TASO that you get can last up to 14 days. Once you return to court, the judge can extend the TASO for additional 14-day periods, for 28 days with good cause, or for a longer period if both parties consent.2

Final Anti-Stalking Order (ASO)
A final ASO can be issued by a judge after one of the following happens:

  1. there is a court hearing where you and the stalker appear and present evidence and testimony to the judge;3
  2. there is a court hearing where only you appear – the stalker fails to appear even though you can prove s/he was properly served with notice of the court date;4 or
  3. in court, the stalker consents to an ASO being issued. A stalker can consent to an ASO without admitting to stalking.3

In option 1 or 2, above, the judge will only issue the final ASO if s/he believes that it is more likely than not that the respondent stalked you. For option 3, this is not a requirement.

A final ASO lasts up to two years - the expiration date should be included on the order.5 However, the length of the order can change if either party files a motion in court and proves that there is “good cause” to extend it, change (modify) it, or cancel (vacate) it.6 For more information, see How do I change, cancel, or extend my anti-stalking order?

1 D.C. Code § 16-1063(d)
2 D.C. Code § 16-1063(e)(2)
3 D.C. Code § 16-1064(c)
4 D.C. Code § 16-1065(c)
5 D.C. Code § 16-1064(d)
6 D.C. Code § 16-1064(e)