Please note: Entries within this blog may contain references to instances of domestic abuse, dating abuse, sexual assault, abuse or harassment. At all times, Break the Cycle encourages readers to take whatever precautions necessary to protect themselves emotionally and psychologically.  If you would like to speak with an advocate, please contact a 24/7 peer advocate at 866-331-9474  or text "loveis" to 22522.

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) AND CLOSINGS: HOW YOU CAN CONTINUE TO BE SAFE AND SEEK PROTECTION. (For residents or those with cases in DC)

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) AND CLOSINGS: HOW YOU CAN CONTINUE TO BE SAFE AND SEEK PROTECTION.  (For residents or those with cases in DC)

By: Tamiaya J. Mosesly, Managing Attorney, DC Legal Services

(Note: This blog was updated on 3/23/2020 and will continue to be updated as new information becomes available about court closings and scheduling)

This month the media is full of news about the worldwide spread of a very concerning illness, the Coronavirus or Covid-19.  Government officials across the nation are developing plans to keep the public safe from this virus that include potentially closing many public establishments, including the courts.  News about the virus’ spread and the numerous closings are creating significant public anxiety, stress, financial difficulty, and confusion about where to turn for resources and support.  This is even more concerning for people in our community who are experiencing abuse.  With so many people being forced to stay at home to avoid getting sick, those experiencing abuse are at an increased risk of further violence while being shut in with their abusers.  This is even more concerning when it is youth who are being abused.

With all of this confusion, survivors can find themselves at a loss of how to obtain protection from abuse.  Although many things have changed due to this virus, there are still support systems in place to support survivor’s safety.  Please read below to get your questions answered on how you can seek protection or to find out the process if you currently have a Temporary Protection Order or your Civil Protection Order is expiring.

For youth survivors who currently have a Temporary Protection Order or who filed for an expiring Civil Protection Order with a court date in the next two months.

  1. Do I need to go to court on my court date?

The DC Courts issued an Order on March 15, 2020, rescheduling all Civil Protection Order Hearings until May 1, 2020 , and recently issued a second Order pushing the date the court would reopen back to May 15, 2020 If your court date is before May 15, 2020, you do not need to go to court on the date you were previously given.  The court will send you a new Notice of Hearing and Order to Appear, the document that gives you information about the new court date. The new court date will be on or after May 1, 2020.  You can also check the updated Civil Protection Order case scheduling chart in the Court Resources section at the bottom of the page to find your new court date.

  1. The expiration date on my Temporary Protection Order or Civil Protection Order is coming up soon.  What should I do?

The DC Court issued an Order on March 19, 2020, extending all Temporary Protection Orders and Civil Protection Orders until May 1, 2020 or until the new court date that will be sent out to you.Your Temporary Protection Order or Civil Protection Order will be in place until your new court date.

  1. Do I still need to serve the Respondent with the court papers for my Civil Protection Order Hearing before my case can be reviewed by the court on my next court date?

Yes, you will still need to show the court that the Respondent received a copy of the papers before the court can proceed with your case on the next court date.

Service of Process

If this is your first time trying to get a Civil Protection Order, the Respondent will need a copy of all three papers you received from the court, including the Petition for a Civil Protection Order, Temporary Protection Order and the new Notice of Hearing and Order to appear.This paperwork will need to be provided to the Respondent directly or provided to someone at the Respondent’s home by anyone other than the Petitioner/survivor who is 18 years old or older.The person who gives the Respondent the paperwork will need to fill out the

If you are extending your Civil Protection Order, the Respondent will need a copy of the Motion paperwork you filed to request the extension; the extended Civil Protection Order, if one was awarded by the court; and the Notice of Hearing and Order to Appear, the document with the new court date.These documents should be mailed to the Respondent at his last know address by certified mail with a request for a return receipt. The US postal service workers can provide more information about this type of mailing.

For youth survivors who want to seek protection from abuse:

  1. What should I do if I am currently experiencing abuse?

If you are currently experiencing abuse/violence, you should call 911 for immediate police assistance.The police can assist with removing your abuser and helping you get the medical services you may need.

  1. Is the DC court currently closed due to the coronavirus?

While many types of cases have been rescheduled for a future date, the courts are still considering requests for protection from abuse.You can still get a Temporary Protection Order, a short-term court order that provides protection from abuse, through the Court’s Emergency Temporary Protection Order process.For information on this process, please see the next question.The court will also provide you with a date to come back to court for the Civil Protection Order, an order that provides protection from abuse for up to a year.

  1. How can I get protection from the courts now that there are so many changes due to Coronavirus/Covid-19?

Due to the Coronavirus/Covid-19, the court has stopped all in-person court hearings.  You can still get a Temporary Protection Order through the Emergency Temporary Protection Order process.  There are three options for getting  protection through the Emergency Temporary Protection Order process. 

Option 1:  Call the police and request protection.  The police will then get in touch with domestic violence advocates from SAFE, to assist you by phone with the court paperwork for the protection order and help you with a safety plan and other protective and supportive services.  A judge will listen to your statement of what happened to you over the phone and can issue you a Temporary Protection Order and a court date for a Civil Protection Order.

Option 2: A Petition for a Civil Protection Order with a request for a Temporary Protection Order can be filed online at https://www.probono.net/dccourts.  Just click the link, then click the link for the Civil Protection Order form and the system will take you to a page where you will enter information about yourself, the Respondent (the abuser) and what happened.  The court will review the paperwork and provide it to domestic violence advocates from SAFE, who will assist you with the process of getting Temporary Protection Order.  

Option 3: Call SAFE’s domestic violence Response Line (800) 407-5048, and a domestic violence advocate will assist with the process of getting a protection order.

  1. I filed for a Civil Protection Order.  When will I need to go to court?

The court is delaying all Civil Protection Order Hearings until May 1, 2020 or later.You will likely get a court date at your Emergency Temporary Protection Order hearing or through the mail that will be dated for after May 1, 2020.

For youth survivors who would like to have legal assistance for their protection order case in DC:

              Break the Cycle’s youth-centered attorneys that can assist you with seeking

protection from abuse.  Please send an email to legalservices@breakthecycle.org,

and a member of our legal team will get in contact with you as soon as possible.

For youth survivors in need of supportive services:

Organization

Contact Information

Help Provided

SAFE Crisis Response Line

(Phone only)

800-407-5048

Help with protection orders, safety planning, emergency shelter, transportation, other support services

Whitman Walker Health Centers

202-745-7000

 

1525 14th Street NW

Medical/Health Services

Sasha Bruce

202-675-9340

Youth-centered shelter services, Drop-In Centers, Counseling Services

DC Forensic Nurse Examiners

844-443-5732

Sexual Assault and Intimate Partner Abuse Nurses Exams

Amara Legal Center

240-257-6492

Help seeking protection from trafficking

 

COURT RESOURCES:

Order of the Court dated 3/15/2020 - https://www.dccourts.gov/sites/default/files/Order-3-15-20.pdf

DC Superior Court Covid-19 Plan Overview - https://www.dccourts.gov/sites/default/files/Summary-CV-update.pdf

Civil Protection Order Cases Scheduling Chart (starting 5/4/2020)  (UPDATED ON 3/23/2020)