What is the process for obtaining a restraining order in Ohio?

Understanding Restraining Orders in Ohio

Obtaining a restraining order, also known as a protection order, in the state of Ohio is a legal process designed to protect individuals from harassment, stalking, threats, or abuse. This article outlines the steps one must take to secure such an order and provides insights into the nuances of the process.

Step 1: Determining the Type of Protection Order

In Ohio, there are primarily two types of protection orders: Civil Protection Orders (CPOs) and Temporary Protection Orders (TPOs). CPOs are typically used in cases of domestic violence or stalking and last up to five years. TPOs are issued in connection with criminal cases and last as long as the criminal case is active.

Step 2: Filing a Petition

To initiate the process, the petitioner must file a form with the clerk of courts in the county where they reside or where the offender lives. The forms are available at local courthouses or online. It's essential to provide detailed information about the incidents and why protection is necessary.

Step 3: Ex Parte Hearing

Shortly after filing, an ex parte hearing will be held where the petitioner can explain their situation to a judge without the presence of the alleged offender. If the judge determines that there is an immediate threat, they may grant an ex parte CPO, which provides temporary protection until a full hearing can be scheduled.

Step 4: Service of Process

The alleged offender must be served with a copy of the order so they are aware of it and any forthcoming hearings. Law enforcement typically handles this step.

Step 5: Full Hearing

A full hearing is usually scheduled within 10 days. Both parties have the opportunity to present evidence and testify. If the judge finds that the petitioner needs protection, they may grant a full CPO.

Enforcement and Violations

A CPO is enforceable throughout Ohio and can be enforced by any law enforcement agency. Violating a CPO is a criminal offense that can result in arrest and prosecution.

Historically, restraining orders have evolved significantly. For example, Ohio's Domestic Violence Act of 1978 was instrumental in providing more robust legal remedies for victims, including restraining orders that have since become critical in protecting individuals from harm.