A civil protection order, sometimes called a "CPO," is a civil court order that can help protect victims of domestic violence, stalking, or harassment. If granted by a court, a civil protection order prevents an alleged offender from contacting the applicant for a certain period of time.
To apply for a civil protection order, an application must be filed with the county clerk that includes a sworn statement explaining why the applicant fears for their safety and any conduct by the offender within the last 90 days that has made the applicant fearful.
Following the filing of an application, a hearing will be held where a judge will determine whether the alleged offender poses a "likelihood of immediate violence." This is generally found where there is either (1) recent evidence of threatened bodily harm or domestic violence, or (2) reasonable cause to believe bodily harm may result. If found, the judge will issue a civil protection order for a period of 14 days. This is sometimes called a "temporary protection order." The police with then serve the temporary protection order on the alleged offender along with a notice of hearing for a second hearing. If the evidence presented at the second hearing indicates that "good cause" exists to extend the temporary protection order, then the judge will extend it. Because this is a pretty low standard, civil protection orders are typically extended absent proof of no continued danger.
It's important to note that a civil protection order is distinct from a no contact order. While both typically stem from harassment allegations and aim to prohibit contact from a certain party, a no contact order is always issued under an existing criminal case whereas a civil protection order is often filed before any criminal case is initiated. In other words, if you are seeking to prevent someone from contacting you who is already named in a pending criminal case, such as a domestic violence case, you should request a no contact order in that case instead of applying for a civil protection order.
Here are some additional facts about civil protection orders in Idaho:
- Although it's not mandatory to hire an attorney to obtain a civil protection order in Idaho, an attorney can best assist you in presenting evidence and questioning individuals under oath at hearings. In addition, if you choose to hire an attorney and your civil protection order is granted, upon request, the judge can order the offender to pay all reasonable attorney's fees you incurred in obtaining the order (see Idaho Code 39-3606).
- A civil protection order prevents an offender from physically coming within 1,500 feet (roughly 5 football fields) of you, calling, texting, or otherwise attempting to contact you.
- If you are in Ada County, you can obtain an application on the first floor of the Ada County Courthouse located at 200 West Front Street. The Women and Children's Alliance can also assist you in seeking a civil protection Order, and you can reach them at (208) 577-4400.
- A violation of a civil protection order is a misdemeanor, and you should promptly report any violation of a civil protection order to the police. If you choose not to report a violation, it may prevent the judge from extending the order in the future.
- In deciding whether to issue a civil protection order, courts can generally only consider conduct that occurred in the past 90 days. Therefore, it's important to act fast if you are serious about applying for one.
If you have any unanswered questions about civil protection orders or would like assistance in applying for one, feel free to contact our office for a free 30-minute consultation.