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Can You Explain an EPO and DVO?

Posted on February 6, 2010 in General Criminal Law Issues - Northern KY

In Kentucky, an EPO is an Emergency Protection Order and is granted based solely on the sworn testimony of one witness, often referred to as a victim. Due to the emergency nature of an EPO, it is only granted for a maximum of 14 days. This allows the person accused to be given an opportunity to be heard by the judge before a more permanent order can be entered.

Within the 14 days, the Court will schedule the matter for a hearing to determine whether or not to grant a DVO, or Domestic Violence Order. A DVO can be entered for a period of up to 3 years and can be extended thereafter upon motion of the victim.

While not technically criminal, a DVO has many criminal like consequences. For example, if a DVO is granted, the accused will not be allowed to own, possess or carry a firearm during the period of the DVO. Additionally, the DVO appears on a police officer’s computer if a history is reviewed. A violation of a DVO is a criminal offense, no matter how minor the infraction.

Often people mistakenly believe that a DVO is mutual or that a victim can waive the protection. Both are false: if a DVO is entered against you and you are in violation – you go to jail. It does not matter if the victim called you or placed you in the position of violating (being within 500 feet), the DVO does not apply to the victim.

In order to change the terms of a DVO, a victim must seek a dismissal or modification by the Court which originally entered the DVO. The Court is not required, but often will grant the modification. The accused should be skeptical of any request to meet or otherwise violate a DVO and should not allow themselves to be in such a position unless the DVO is dismissed or modified.

If you have been charged with Domestic Violence or wish to know your rights about modifying a DVO, in Northern Kentucky contact attorney Michael W. Bouldin at mwbouldin@fuse.net or 859-581-6453.

138 thoughts on “Can You Explain an EPO and DVO?

  • j.t says:

    im trying to get another job but having trouble i live in ohio i had a history report sent to me from louisville it says violation of an epo/dvo ***obsolete code ** post 7/7/99 arrest 1 charge 1 then theres another one violation of a kentucky epo/dvo it says ROR i dont know what that means is this a feloney can i get it off i wasnt guilty but the attorney i hired said i should plead guilty to keep me out of jail

  • mbouldin says:

    ROR means “released on own recognizance” and relates to bond. The EPO/DVO violation is a misdemeanor. You were likely put on 2 years CD time, equivalent to non-reporting probation. If you have had no charges since that time, you are eligible for expungement since 5 years have elapsed since your CD time terminated (7 years total). If your conviction was in Northern Kentucky, I can assist you in filing for expungement.

  • K says:

    My fiance and I had a verbal argument on the side of the road of 275. It was a joking argument about me saying I needed to lose weight. I felt sick so I got some fresh air out of the truck. People driving by saw me on the ground. I had a seizure because Im epileptic. My fiance was only helping me up. “Witnesses” called the police and said he was assaulting me. I told the cops he had never hit me. Now we both have to stay 500 feet away. He was charged with assault fourth degree domestic no visable injuries. I don’t want to file charges. He never did anything. It was a big misunderstanding and he was simply just helping from the ground after a seizure. Please help. Neither one of us want EPO’s on each other or charges filed.

  • mbouldin says:

    Sounds like a “not guilty” to me. Call the office. If he has court before you get in, just plead not guilty and they will set for pretrial conference. Tell them that you are hiring an attorney.

  • Shan says:

    My boyfriend got caught with a handgun along with other charges he got out on property Bond than we had got into a argument where he has a no violence order on him he didn’t hit me but he charge at me and the police violated me how long will he get

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    It is impossible to determine from these facts. He should hire a criminal defense attorney to help him with the charges. (and PV?) Most times negotiations prove most beneficial the earlier you involve a lawyer. Call or email my office for consultation. 581-6453 or mwbouldin2@gmail.com

  • please help says:

    Hello, my ex which i have a child with filed a dvo against mycurrent boyfriend which i have a child with on behalf of our daughter. He stated domestic violence occurred in front of our daughter and the judge granted him temporary custody and set a dvo for 3yrs against my current boyfriend/child father. He is now ordered to do classes and my oldest daughter isnt in the home she has been with me since birth, what can i do i miss my child and so does her sister, he also filed a custody change so i wont have primary custodianship.

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    You need to find an attorney who handles both DVO and custody cases. Because of the involvement here, the easiest thing to do is separate from your current boyfriend so he is not in the home when/then you can care for the child. You need to fight for custodian. You may end up in any or all of 3 different courts: custody, DVO, and juvenile. All are family courts but carry different case numbers and the rulings need to coincide. Unfortunately, the various courts mean more time and legal fees will not be inexpensive. If you are in Northern Kentucky call my office for consultation.

  • Liz says:

    I took a DVO out on my husband..I would like to drop, and try to work on our marriage. If I do not appear for court, will this be dropped automatically? Court is in two days

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    He needs to appear and contest it. Different counties are different. Often if you do not appear, the court will dismiss the DVO. Some courts will issue a warrant for your arrest. It is generally best for you both to appear. If you want to dismiss, you will have to tell the court that you wish to dismiss it. Many judges will ask that you at least speak to someone from the Women’s Crisis Center before deciding to dismiss and many courts have a representative present to speak to.

  • Kristin says:


    My ex boyfriend, lets call him Riley, and I broke up April 2nd. On April 14th I started dating a new guy, we can call him Joe. Since I started dating Joe my ex has showed up in the middle of the night to Joes house screaming and cursing about fighting. He has showed up to my work to speak to me. He has showed up at my apartment in an attempt to speak to me again. It is now July and I found out Joe and I are pregnant. Since the ex found out about this he has gone crazy with Death threats to Joe. An officer already filed charges against him for the threats against Joe and the threats my ex proceeded to give to the officer regarding also killing him and his family. There is a warrant out for his arrest however he has not been found.

    Is this enough for me to get an EPO?

    I want to be safe as I am pregnant and have a 3 year old already and am currently feeling extremely unsafe.

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    It is likely enough. The statute says domestic violence or threat of death or bodily injury. You should file and request protection as well as retain an attorney for your future custody case. Consider whether the boyfriend is helping the situation and if that is a healthy relationship. Best wishes.

  • aweezy says:

    My father went and got a epo on me and I was removed out of my own house on jun 13th. He didnt show up for court but called and said he was sick so they pushed it back 2weeks and then I was cought at my house. (Cuz someone called on me)..
    Can he it dismissed. When we show up for court

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    He can ask that it be dismissed. The court made a mistake in continuing the case and it should have been dismissed. If you were caught at the home, you may be facing additional criminal charges for violating the terms of an EPO. You need to hire a criminal defense lawyer ASAP to help you with both cases. Call my office for consultation if in Northern Kentucky.

  • Robin says:

    My daughter’s father is on disability and only gets $800+ after child support. For the past 2-3 years I’ve been giving the child support back to him because she also received a 600+ check for him being disability, I can be b….. but at that time there was no way he could make it. Now he is on Section 8 so he doesn’t pay that much for rent and his electric is more reasonable. OK, she has turned 18 and graduated in June which means no more 600+ check and the back Child Support payments are $20 and he is mad that I won’t waiver them. He is now being verbally abusive, constantly upsets our daughter, threatens to take me to court. There have been times he would show up at my work. I told him I don’t want anything to do with him, do not call, do not come around but he continues to call and harass me and put my daughter in the middle. I want to know if I would be justified to get a EPO/DVO or what would work?

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    You can request an EPO/DVO, but unless he is making threats of death or bodily harm, it is probably not going to be granted. You can also tell him to stop then file criminal charges of “telephone harassment.” The general result of such is that he is ordered to not have contact. You should state in no uncertain terms that you have no duty to refund anything.

  • Jordan Heck says:

    I filed an EPO on my ex on Monday. He has not been served yet and still he has left me alone. Is there a way to drop this before going to court on Tuesday?

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    No. You can drop it when you go to court. Many judges will have you speak to a representative from the Women’s Crisis Center before dropping the case.

  • sherry says:

    My daughter-in-law had a dvo placed against my son…it has been 8-months now…..during that time it has been violated on several occasions….she even came and picked him up and allowed him to stay there for weeks…..then one day called the police and had him arrested and put out…..the judge st pre-trail let it go and released him right away….question is can she also be found guilty of violation since she allowed him to come back.

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    Short answer, NO. The The DVO is against him, not her. He is bound by the terms and she is not. Generally, the court will not find him in contempt if she is the one violating, but he can be jailed at any time for violation (and even likely for alleged violation). I strongly advise him to avoid any contact or communication unless and until she goes to court and requests that the DVO be dismissed or amended. He will also appear for a hearing to dismiss/amend and the court must so order.

  • James says:

    If I received a dvo in 2003 in high school, I was 18 could I get that dvo contested or something. I am wanting to take on a police position and wanting to know if I can’t do anything with it can I still pursue this.

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    Being in 2003, it is too late to contest. Since a DVO is not a criminal charge, it is not eligible for expungement. It should have expired at this time. I have done a good deal of research on this topic and think it is “ripe” (meaning a good time) to challenge the law. There is also a possibility of filing a motion to seal the record. I believe that the court does have this authority. Unfortunately, it is likely not a simple chore and will require some creative lawyering. You may contact my office to schedule appointment and discuss options/cost.

  • Meagan says:

    I have a question. My sons father is in prison but has threatened to go after custody of my son when he gets out in march or April. Will they look at his dvo that I had on him in 2007-2008 when I was pregnant with my son. I am afraid of him and afraid he would put my son in danger. He may the statement just remember I know where you live. What will happen?

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    If the DVO has not yet expired, you can ask that it be continued out longer. If it has expired, you can file for another DVO, but my guess is you need more than “I know where you live.” The statute for DVO requires domestic violence or threat of bodily injury or death. This nonspecific threat will likely not arise to the level, however many judges will still grant them. Since he is in prison, you could also move/relocate and probably have no duty to tell him of your whereabouts.

  • sam says:

    Ok my father got mad at me over me and my sister having an argument and while seeking revenge he swore a warrent out for terroristic threatening in the 3rd degree and him and my sister went and both got a EPO on Me and I went to court and told the judge it was all lies he never believed me. See our county attorney was on her way out this yr because she got beat in the may election and I was her opponents campaign Manger. My father made it a point to say that I had made very bad Commets to against the county attorney. So when my cases was called up and it was my turn to speak the judge wad reading the EPO and immediately called for a recess. He came back out 5 mins later and called me up again and no matter what I said nor matter what I told him and no matter how mad my dad was getting at me and waving his arms he still moved both up to DVOs. I feel like I have been beaten and stepped on. What can I do. And on the terroristic threatening charge it is not right but in the state of ky without investigating anything they most always grant the warrent and send for your arrest weather ur guilty or not u got to jail. And it’s so hard to prove where u was and prove that u didn’t threaten anyone because you would just about have to keep a voice recorder or something on you at all times what do I do?

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    You have 10 days from the hearing to file a Motion to Reconsider. Whether you do that or not, you have 30 days after the decision to file a Notice of Appeal. The problem with EPO is that they are based on the word of only one person. The DVO is not much better because the standard of proof is preponderance of evidence. This is much less than required in a criminal trial which is beyond a reasonable doubt. You have a different question with the terroristic threatening charge. That is a criminal charge so you have the right to a jury trial, legal counsel and the higher burden of proof. Hire a good local criminal defense attorney to represent you in that trial. It sounds like you might have the new county attorney which should be of benefit. The local attorney should help to determine if the judge may be biased; if you have any doubt, ask for a jury. As an aside, I have found it to be unusual for an arrest warrant to be issued on misdemeanor terroristic threatening; generally the court will issue a summons for arraignment in lieu of arrest.

  • Shayne Jones says:

    I had an EPO in place while my wife and I were going through a divorce in 2006. The EPO expired and my wife and I are back together. My right to own a firearm was restricted. If the EPO expired is this restriction still in place?

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    There should no longer be any restriction on your right to own, possess or carry firearm. If you have any problems with the background check, please call my office if it is not rectified with KSP.

  • Sarah says:

    Mr. Bouldin,

    My father is in federal prison and I have a DVO in place, obviously this DVO was placed prior to his illegal actions. He has violated this by calling me multiple times (leaving voicemails, sending text messages and pictures via text) while being in prison. I am hoping he gets deported back to his country (he is a green card holder). This is emotionally damaging to me. I have blocked all numbers that he contacts me by however, new numbers are used each time. What can be done to see that full punishment is enforced?

  • Sarah says:

    I forgot to mention, I have already filed one complaint last year when he violated it.

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    I would suggest contacting the department of corrections and advise of these actions. You may also want to contact INS about deportation.

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    I hope I directed you to a good location for answers. Best wishes. – mwbouldin2@gmail.com

  • Ariel says:

    I was granted a dvo on my boyfriend back in jan. On that day they gave us a court date for a review of the dvo that is next week, i want to either change the dvo to a no unlawful contact or have the dvo dropped, what will happen if i dont show up to the review? And will they allow me to change/drop the dvo at the review?

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    They will not change unless you do show up. If no violations and there is good reason, the judge will likely allow you to modify or dismiss the DVO. It also depends on the initial allegations and is ultimately the decision of the judge.

  • Angel says:

    How longg will you serve in jail for violating your EPO

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    Depends. If violation was beating up the person, then likely quite awhile. If it was more of a technical violation (i.e. you walked into a store and the person was there), it will not likely be jail time. The violation itself is a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 12 months and/or $500 fine. If you are charged, you should hire an attorney.

  • Danyelle says:

    Hello. I am trying to get an epo dropped on My fiancé that I had filed. I was only mad when I filed it and I don’t want it no more. I just want us to work this stuff out without court. I have court tomorrow. Please let me know.

  • Michael Bouldin says:

    You can tell the court that you wish to have it dismissed. Many courts will mandate that you first speak to a “victim advocate” however if you do not want to pursue the DVO the court must drop it. You do need to be in court and tell the judge.

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