District of Columbia Statutory Civil Law

  1. The Intrafamily Offenses Act — D.C. Code § 16-1003 (Restraining Orders)

    1. Introduction

      The District of Columbia Intrafamily Offenses Act authorizes civil protective orders that may protect victims from harassment.

    2. Text of Statute(s)

      § 16-1001 Definitions.

      § 16-1003 Petition for Civil Protection.

      § 16-1004 Petition; notice; temporary order.

      § 16-1005. Hearing; evidence; protection order.

      § 16-1006 Jurisdiction.

    3. Cases

      1. A.R. v. F.C., 33 A.3d 403 (D.C. 2011).
        • Procedural Posture: The trial court had dismissed the petitioner’s petition for a CPO because she lacked a personal relationship with the respondent. Petitioner appealed.
        • Law: civil protective order statute
        • Facts: Petitioner sought CPO against respondent whom she claimed sexually assaulted her. However, the respondent was not a boyfriend or girlfriend, nor had they lived together, or had an intimate relationship. Instead the respondent was a close friend of her ex-boyfriend.
        • Outcome: Reversed. Interpreted statutory phrase limiting petitioners to those who allege “that her or she is the victim of interpersonal, intimate partner or family violence, stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse.” Held that phrase “interpersonal, intimate partners, or family” only applied to “violence.” Therefore, if alleging “stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse,” petitioner need not allege any particular relationship with the respondent.
        • Special Notes: When alleging “stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse,” petitioner need not allege any particular relationship with the respondent.
      2. Richardson v. Easterling, 878 A.2d 1212 (D.C. 2005).
        • Procedural Posture: The trial court denied petition for CPO because the petitioner did not allege “abuse or violence.” Petitioner appealed.
        • Law: civil protective order statute
        • Facts: Petitioner sought CPO against former homosexual lover because of defamatory statements and harassing telephone calls.
        • Outcome: Reversed. While the CPO was not available for alleged defamatory statements, the numerous threatening and harassing telephone calls constituted “stalking.”
        • Special Notes: Triggering offense need not involve physical abuse or physical violence.
      3. Shewarega v. Yegzaw, 947 A.2d 47 (D.C. 2008).
        • Procedural Posture: Defendant was convicted in the trial court of disobeying a CPO. He appealed.
        • Facts: Defendant was plaintiff’s housemate, and plaintiff alleged defendant had assaulted and threatened her.
        • Outcome: The CPO was not void ab initio. The Intrafamily Offense Act applied to assault by roommates, even where no other intimate relationship existed.
    4. Practice Pointers

      • The triggering offense need not involve physical abuse or violence.
      • The relationship element will be satisfied if either (a) the petition is based on stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse, or (b) if the petitioner at one time had a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship, or shared a residence.
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