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

Legal Information: District of Columbia

Restraining Orders

View all
Laws current as of April 5, 2024

Who can get a civil protection order?

You may be eligible for a civil protection order if a family member, household member, or intimate partner commits or threatens to commit any crime against you or if s/he commits or threatens to commit cruelty to animals against a pet that you have or own. These types of crimes are called “intrafamily offenses.”1

A “family member” is someone you are related to by blood, adoption, legal custody, marriage, or domestic partnership, or who is the child of your intimate partner.1

A “household member” is someone you live/lived with at some point in the last year. It also could include someone with whom you have a close relationship that would make it appropriate for a judge to grant get a civil protection order against that person.2

An “intimate partner” is

  • a current or former spouse or domestic partner;
  • someone with whom you have a child in common;
  • someone with whom you are or were in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship; or
  • someone who was seeking to be in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship with you.3

In addition, you can also file against anyone who sexually assaults you or traffics you even if the relationship between you and the offender does not fall into one of the above categories.4

If you are unable to file a petition by yourself or, in the case of certain minors, if you are unable to file for one with the assistance of a parent, guardian, custodian, or other appropriate adult, the Attorney General may file the petition on your behalf. To get the Attorney General to do this, you, your representative, or a government agency must make this request to the Attorney General. If the Attorney General files on your behalf, the Attorney General actually represents the interests of the District of Columbia and not specifically your particular interests. You are not even legally required to be at the court dates.5

Note: You can file for a civil protection order in D.C. if you live, work, or go to school in D.C., if you are under the legal custody of a government agency in D.C., or if the incident(s) contained in the petition occurred in D.C.1

1 D.C. Code § 16-1001(5A)
2 D.C. Code § 16-1001(5B)
3 D.C. Code § 16-1001(6A)
4 D.C. Code § 16-1003(a)
5 D.C. Code § 16-1003(f)
6 D.C. Code § 16-1006