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Important note: Although courts may be closed or accepting limited cases due to COVID-19, there should still be a way to file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our Frequently Asked Questions Involving Courts and COVID-19, or call your local courthouse for more details.

Legal Information: District of Columbia

Restraining Orders

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November 1, 2019

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 can be a misdemeanor crime, which can be punished by a fine, imprisonment for not more than 180 days, or both.1 Also, if the abuser committed a crime while violating the order (e.g., s/he violated the order by 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); or
  • a Motion to Adjudicate Criminal Contempt (for things such as the abuser contacting, threatening, or abusing you).

1 D.C. Code § 16-1005(f),(g)