WomensLaw serves and supports all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information: District of Columbia

Restraining Orders

View all
April 5, 2024

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

When you have a civil protection order, you are generally the one who will report any violations of that order. If the abuser violates the order, you can call the police and report the violation. Violation of a temporary or final civil protection order is known as “criminal contempt” and is also a misdemeanor crime, which can be punished by a fine, imprisonment for up to 180 days, or both.1 Also, if the abuser committed a crime while violating the order, such as hitting you, s/he can also be charged with any other crime that s/he committed and punished separately for that crime.

Another option is to file a violation petition (contempt petition) in court. You could return to the Intake Center where you can file:

  • a Motion to Adjudicate Civil Contempt, for things such as nonpayment of monetary support, where you would be asking the court to make the abuser follow the order by imposing a fine or jail time; or
  • a Motion to Adjudicate Criminal Contempt, for things such as the abuser contacting, threatening, or abusing you, where you would be asking that the Office of the Attorney General bring charges against the abuser.1

For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our general Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.

1 D.C. Code § 16-1005(f), (g)