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What is the standard of proof for a civil protection order?

Domestic violence cases often turn into he-said, she-said situations and can be very difficult to prosecute. However, when a case does go before a court, it puts the defendant's immediate future and long-term reputation in jeopardy. One court action that is very common in these cases is a civil protection order. Understanding what someone has to show to be able to get one of these orders against you is important to being prepared for the rest of the case.

In Connecticut, the person applying for the civil protection order needs to show that there is the "continuous threat of present physical pain or physical injury." This means that there needs to be allegations of actual physical abuse. While emotional and psychological abuse is becoming more recognized among mental health professionals, this is usually not enough to get a civil protection order unless there is also some evidence that there has been a physical altercation.

It is possible for you to be at the hearing for the civil protection orders, but the courts also allow for ex parte orders in extreme cases. To be granted an ex parte civil protection order, the other person must claim that there is "an immediate and present physical danger."

Once you are aware that there is a civil protection order against you, it is absolutely critical to abide by the terms of the order and seek legal counsel. A civil protection order is often the precursor to formal domestic violence charges, and a domestic violence conviction can keep you from getting certain jobs and/or interfere with any future custody orders.

Source: American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, "Standards of Proof for Domestic Violence Civil Protection Orders (CPOs) By State," accessed April. 30, 2015

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