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Legal Information: District of Columbia

Restraining Orders

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October 29, 2020

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in the District of Columbia?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a civil protection order.

In Washington, D.C., domestic violence is divided into three categories: intimate partner violence, intrafamily violence, and interpersonal violence, which are explained in detail below. “Domestic violence” is when one of the following people commits or threatens to commit any crime against you:1

  • someone you are or were married to, in a domestic partnership with, or in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship with (“intimate partner violence”);
  • someone related to you by blood, adoption, legal custody, marriage, or domestic partnership (i.e., your brother or your father-in-law) (“intrafamily violence”);
  • someone you have a child in common with – this can be (“intrafamily violence”) and/or (“intimate partner violence”);
  • someone with whom you share(d) a home (i.e., a roommate) (“interpersonal violence”); or
  • someone who is/was in an intimate relationship with the same person that you are/were in an intimate relationship with (e.g., you are dating Jane and Jane’s ex-husband assaults you)(“interpersonal violence”).2

You can read the definitions of some common crimes on our Crimes page.

Note: If you are a victim of stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse, you can file for a civil protection order against the offender even if you do not fall into one of these above categories.3

1 D.C. Code § 16-1003(a)
2 D.C. Code § 16-1001(6)-(9)
3 D.C. Code § 16-1001(12)