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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?

  • Sarah Garmany says:

    I filed an EPO against my baby’s father and it was granted. The criminal wrote me via email and when I read the message i went down to the court house to file a complaint and issue a warrant for his arrest. The prosecuter told me that I should have called the police as soon as I read it. Instead I went down to the court house and he is still free and threatening my family through my sister whom i live with. Can anything be done about this?

  • mbouldin says:

    You can file a motion for contempt in the DV case.

  • James Ashby says:

    I have a friend who has separated from his wife. A known drug user by the community but not known legally. She managed to fabricate an entire scenario that was completely believed by the family court judge. As a result, she managed to get a EPO against him with several other caveats. He can’t return home, he has no rights to see his 6 year old son at this time, and no recourse when she stole $1800 of his money because they are “still married.” The terms of the EPO as described to him are as follows. If he is in a restaurant, church, or any other public meeting place and she arrives then he must leave. Is this the normal structure of most EPO’s? I ask this because my friend has been clean and sober in Narcotics Anonymous for the past 12 years and if he attends a meeting she will usually arrive after he has gotten there and he is then forced to leave. Is this what the EPO was intended for?

  • mbouldin says:

    yes, the EPO, which consequently becomes a DVO can be in place for up to 3 years. It is completely one sided; it is against him – not her. He has an obligation to stay away from her, not vice-versa. Therefore, since he is the only one in jeopardy, he must leave.

  • Megan A says:

    I have a DVO in effect against my childs father. This is the second one I have had. He violated and served time during the first one. Now, he has sent me a friend request on MySpace. Does this count as a violation of the DVO? I live in Lexington. Is it true I can communicate with him and suffer no consequences but he cannot communicate with me?

  • mbouldin says:

    First. I believe it is very likely a violation. Second, true but. . . the court cannot hold you in contempt or otherwise file charges because the DVO is only against him; not you. That said, if you do communicate with him or initiate communication the court will likely/possibly not find him in contempt if he violates by responding. The court may even consider a motion to modify the terms of the DVO if you are initiating communication. In essence, the courts disfavor teh victim luring/coaxing him into another violation.

  • Ashcraftgirl says:

    I had a DVO ordered 3 weeks ago to last 3 years. Recently he tried emailng me on myspace, under the guise of my 9 yr old’s myspace page (I know, ridiculous). Well, since he knew he was in violation we agreed to drop the contempt so long as he followed visitation to a T. Well, now he is posting blogs, aimed at me, referring to me in all but my name. Is this a violation of the DVO? I am unclear if this would be considered an attempt to communicate with me, or if it would be seen as publicly venting. He has done several others and I know they were aimed at me but they were vague in intent, this new one seems right at me. Here is the link:http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=415469926&blogId=537450320

    In it he expresses wishes that I were dead and so on. It’s disturbing.


  • melinda ball says:

    First, thank you for this useful website and taking the time to answer questions.
    I tried to get a DVO against my ex-boyfriend, but was unable because we hadn’t had children or lived together. I had to go to courthouse to tell them how before I broke up he told me if I did he’d kill me, and the e-mails he sent claiming he had looked at my facebook friends and took all weekend writing them down and now knew where everyone lives (which I know means he’ll contact them & tell them things I told him in confidence just to make them mad at me & alienate me), and he also left a beer can on my backporch one nite which I found the next morning and that evening my cousin told me his facebook picture was changed to him holding a beer. All subtle but add up to stalking. The prosecuting attorney didn’t know what the judge would charge him with. My question is he already has an existing DVO whom his ex-wife filed. How are the courts going to look at all this with him already having the previous DVO? I want a restraining order, but if he gets a felony he loses his job and I don’t want that. Not only for him, but especially because if that happened NO piece of paper will stop him from harming me because he totally blaims other people and doesn’t take responsibility for his own actions. Sorry so long … but thanks for any info.

  • mbouldin says:

    It is likely that they would not charge him with felony stalking anyway. I would ask the prosecutor in your county to charge him with “Harassment.” It’s a relatively minor misdemeanor but the judge could hold some time over his head and make “no contact” with you as a condition of bond or of not having to serve jail time.

  • mbouldin says:

    I don’t know if a judge would see it as a violation or not. You should file it and I would assume that most judges would at least warn him that future action would/may be a violation. Social media is very difficult for legal system to deal with.

  • Okay, Heres a Question for ya
    my ex husband cant read or write an he placed a epo on me bc his okay they say they took it on me but he really didnt want to she done it he never filled out anything nothing but it says that he did an he wants us to work this out < our relationship but i cant bc of the dvo an i cant talk to him bc this girl is verry controling an plus i never recived an DOCUMENT SAYING I HAD A EPO OR A DVO I DONT KNOW WHAT OT DO WRITE ME BACK @ mistyburnett2@hotmail.com

  • mbouldin says:

    Find out what there is by going to the Clerk in the county you resided at the time and asking the Domestic/Family Court Clerk for help. Once you find out either party may file a Motion to Amend the DVO to allow for contact between the parties. It is usually only granted for good reason and with the agreement of the “victim.” Never assume that an ex’s new girlfriend is telling the truth. . . find out for yourself!

  • Tiffani says:

    Hello Mr. Bouldin,

    I recently went down to get an EPO on my boyfriend, it’s been 8 days and I go to court tomorrow, I want to drop it because I am moving away, Do I have to be present at court or will the judge dismiss it?

  • mbouldin says:

    Generally the judge will simply dismiss an EPO if the complaining party does not appear. That said, the judge has the right to issue a summons for the complaining party to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for their failure to appear. When you file a complaint and request an EPO, you are handed a notice of the court date. If you fail to appear, it is the same as failing to honor a subpoena. Since the case is often dismissed, the other party seldom requests contempt. Remember, it is the right of the court and different judges and different counties may not simply dismiss the case. The legal advice is to attend the hearing and then request that the EPO/DVO be dismissed.

  • Donnie B says:

    I have a very important question….My babys mother has had a EPO/DVO on me for awhile now and is unable to have it dismissed. Is that normal or does the judge down here have it out for me? The day before it expired I was in violation of said DVO, then the commonwealth supposedly extended it for 3 more years. Why didn’t I receive any notice of said extension? And how can we have it amended to a no violence order if the commonwealth has in fact picked it up? PLEASE HELP US!

  • Laura says:

    I had an EPO on my ex-husband and was given a DVO earlier this week. He has a small arsenal of firearms, which I assume he was to give-up. Who “holds” these weapons for the three years, or are they confiscated and sold by the local sherriff’s office? Also, does a DVO also restrict the accused from bows/arrows or only firearms?

  • mbouldin says:

    They can be held by anyone other than the person against whom the DVO was granted. If a DVO is granted, a defendant cannot own, possess or carry a firearm. They are not confiscated or sold byt he authorities.

  • mbouldin says:

    It is not uncommon for a Judge to refuse to dismiss a DVO especially if there had been a finding of violence. DVOs are generally only extended beyond the 3 years upon motion of the victim. It is possible that the Court may do it on its own motion if the facts were particularly horrific or if there have been violations. The Commonwealth (prosecutor’s office) does not involve itself in EPO/DVO cases other than a possible related criminal charge. An attorney may be able to help you by filing a motion to amend or dismiss the DVO.

  • j says:

    Does a Kentucky EPO extend to other states?

  • mbouldin says:

    Yes. If you have an EPO in Kentucky you are bound by its terms regardless of where you are. Therefore, if there is a “no contact” provision or you must stay 500 feet from the complaining party, you cannot go to Cincinnati and meet. That said, there may be some additional defenses available if you are prosecuted for violating the EPO/DVO in another state.

  • Amanda says:

    I had placed an EPO on my son’s dad back in July of 2009. The Procecutor told me to place it for 3 years, So given best judgement….I did. And I regret it. The basis for me filing the epo was that he made me loose my job and broke my telephone. Cps is involved because our son was there at the time. I have wanted to get the EPO Dropped so me and my ex can work out our family, When I asked the judge she said she will when he completes his classes for dvo. and that will be done sometime in July, we dont want to wait that long to be together, and he is the only one working and has a vehicle. I feel awful we have to sneak around, my record is clean, I dont get into trouble or do any drugs, I just feel like the DVO was the worst mistake of my life because I can’t live it and get on with it! Im feeling like the criminal in fears that we get caught together we’ll both go to jail and our son will go to a foster home. I just want it over! Is there anything you can suggest??

  • mbouldin says:

    My suggestion is to wait until July. There may be a way for your child’s father to hasten the classes (take 2/week instead of 1); he needs to ask the class provider. Judges generally want three things: (1) the abuser to get help and avoid future acts of domestic violence; and (2) for the victim to think about what they really want from their life and if that person should be involved; and (3) most importantly, judges want to protect children as they are often innocent victims of their parents’ mistakes. There are simply too many cases where a mother allows her child to be subjected to abuse (whether direct or indirect by witnessing abuse) because the mother won’t leave an abuser.

    I would also advise you to discuss the case with the Women’s Crisis Center. Their counselors are trained to help people who have been subjected to abuse and, if you choose to return, to prevent future acts and protect yourself and your child in the future. Many times people return to an abusive relationship because of financial concerns. (Financial abuse is another form of forcing someone to do something against their will and impose your will on someone else.)

    With respect to the DVO, you cannot get in trouble for violating, only the accused. If CPS is involved however, you can lose your child. You need to ask yourself if seeing this person before July is worth losing your child (probably not). I generally support less intervention by courts and government, but reading between the lines it sounds like you are making an unsafe and reckless decision due to financial concerns.

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you for some of the information it helps. I never allow my child to be around the abuse, yes, my child was in the home asleep in his bed. The father got me fired at my job because I worked 70+hours a week and went to file a motion of custody for our son, they denied him. so cps got invovled. I just had my last home visit with cps and they have closed the case, we are both compliant. He is not forcing me against my will with finacial reasons. We just want our son to have both his mother and father together and we have gotten past all this stuff with the broken phone and dvo, but I just want it dropped. In July I should go to the courts and ask the judge to drop the dvo after he finishes his classes? I went to my classes at the Womens crisis center and it saddens me, these women are in there for abuse that is unthinkable and deserves jail time. I just felt like I didnt belong. I felt like an idiot. He is not worth losing my child over. I guess I will stay in the house for now on and not go anywhere while he stays at his brothers and pays our bills so me and our son will have a future. He is a good father, he works hard and supports me in everything I do, an arguement has led to all this pain and worry. My cps worker is all up for us getting back together and making it work, but Im not taking chances when it comes to my kid. I know I have a good man in my life and a good father too, which are hard to come by. We love each other very much and it’s going to be hard but what can we do the courts have control of our lives and regardless of what we want and the best intrest in the child. they win.

  • Richard Rice says:

    Michael, I actually have a couple of questions. I took out an epo on my ex and my understanding is that if there is a child involved that the child is supposed to go with the petitioner until the court date. If I’m wrong then I misunderstood what I read. The night I went to the sheriffs department for it whith not only the marks from my ex hitting me and leaving other marks 3 sheriffs and one state police officer did nothing but say all that could be done is take out an epo, was I supposed to be refered to an advicacy representaive?
    My second question is later after the lawyers changed them she took one out when i passed her on the road saying I tried to run her off the road, and during the mediation in front of the commisioner my stepdaughter, (that was there for her mom), stated under oath that is not what happened. If that is brought up in the court after the ex made her testamony that I did, how can a judge rule in her favor? Can an indivivuald ask for a retrial when the individual was not afforded a continuance due to his legal representation couldnt be there to defend him. Can the Judge legaly tel you to bad thats how it goes? please help My job and being able to take care of my son financially dpends on it.

  • anonymous says:

    my husband was able to obtain an epo and dvo because I left a stupid angry threat because he had his girlfriend calling and harassing me. the dvo was issued I made every attempt to stay clear of both of them. However since that dvo was issued he has continued making false statements about me violating the dvo which is completely false. he even had me arrested under the false statement that I had threatened him on his girlfriend’s facebook page which was totally bogus and was eventually dismissed. he accused me of threatening her children but that too was dismissed. now he is claiming that I sent a message about them telling “lies that he is the father of her children and that was the reason for our divorce” totally false and really petty and stupid. I don’t care if that is true or not and the fact that he would waste the courts time with this petty nonsense is beyond me but his motivation is to discredit me because his girlfriend has four charges pending against her in which I am the prosecuting witness. her charges include two counts of violating a no contact order, stalking and harassing communication, and finally retaliation against a witness in a legal process because she told me to watch my back in front of a witness.
    I feel I have no rights and that he can continue to make these bogus claims. What can I do? All his claims have been dismissed but I am fearful. My life has been threatened. i have moved twice and changed my phone number but now they are pulling me back into to the open before the date of my testimony against her with these foolish charges.
    I might add that this is probably the 15th time we have been to court.
    this has become like a nightmare… i feel like I am in the twilight zone

  • mbouldin says:

    Such is the madness which goes with a messy divorce. Unfortunately the courts are ill equipped to deal with constant harassing legal filings. Since most of what you are talking about is “he said, she said” material, the problem is multiplied. The types of charges, verbal threats and harassment, seldom come down to evidence other than testimony of what someone said. These are the types of cases that only resolve via a mutual mediation where everyone stays away from everyone else. Unfortunately, that is not usually possible if you have children in common. Time and separation generally make a difference. The only thing you can do is keep a good attorney on retainer. Once you win repeatedly, the excitement of filing charges becomes negated.

  • mbouldin says:

    The court may, but is not required, to grant custody in an EPO. In Northern Kentucky the courts rarely make a custody determination, even temporary, in an EPO unless the child was the subject or basis for the filing. The police could have filed Assault charges as well; if they did not you can discuss that with the county attorney.
    The judge can rule in either favor. The standard for issuing a DVO is “preponderance of evidence,” not “beyond reasonable doubt.” As such, the court can choose to believe or disbelieve any witness. While it would be perhaps unusual, the Court may believe your ex-wife and not believe you or your daughter.

    The continuance is very tricky under the current state of the law. There is a very new appeals court decision in Telek v. Daugherty which states that a continuance can only be granted if the Respondent has not been served. Hopefully either the legislature will modify the language of the statute or someone will soon challenge this decision as interest of justice or right to fair trial would also seem to be good reasons for continuance.

  • mbouldin says:

    It sounds like you’ve already talked yourself into going forward with the hearing on Monday. Do not hide the mistake you made from the judge if you are asked. You made a mistake. Honesty is generally rewarded while if you are caught in a lie, the Judge will not believe anything you say.

  • mbouldin says:

    You need to file for divorce and then ask for exclusive use of the home. You can and should attend the DV hearing and testify. It sounds like you will testify that they were mutually at fault and that there was no domestic violence. If the judge does not issue a DV, your son can move back in. It is both of your homes.

  • mbouldin says:

    You can only get court orders for visitation; whether he follows it to a T or not is hard to enforce. The commonwealth decides whether or not to dismiss the criminal charges. You can choose to not testify in the criminal case and still keep the EPO and a more permanent DVO.

  • mbouldin says:

    The EPO is against him, not you. The state may go ahead and file a criminal charge against your husband for violating an EPO regardless of whether you wish to prosecute or not. Florida will still arrest if a warrant is issued.

  • amber says:

    so back in September i had an epo taken out on the father of my child. at the time I was pregnant and he had warrants for his arrrest. the judge told us when our child was born in march to come back to have the dvo removed. well the judge is no longer a judge, and im just now going back to court. i have been visiting him in jail (he was arrested 2 days after the epo was filed), speaking with him on the phone, and writing letters. can either of us get in trouble? ky is a commonwealth afterall

  • mbouldin says:

    Yes. The contact is a violation of the EPO. That, in itself, is another crime. Based on teh number of calls, it may be upgraded to stalking. His disregard for the law is reason to be afraid and protect yourself.

  • mbouldin says:

    He is violating the terms of the DVO. That can land him in additional criminal trouble. That said, if you wish to receive protection from the DVO, you should not be promoting the contact. If you wish to resume a relationship, you need to go to the County Clerk, domestic violence division and file a motion to modify/dismiss the current DVO. The new judge can also hear the case and determine if the DVO should be lifted.

  • mbouldin says:

    Tell your boyfriend to stay out or find a new boyfriend. You are not required to file a Complaint for Violation, but it may be a good idea. If they put out a warrant, Florida will still arrest him on the warrant. They will not likely seek him out, and Kentucky may not transfer him if he is arrested. That said, he may also spend time in jail waiting for extradition.

  • mbouldin says:

    You need to hire an attorney The DV is a piece of paper which prohibits him from coming around you. See that it is put in place for 3 years, if possible. You should consult with the Women’s Crisis Center to discuss protection for you and your family. Your attorney can aid in filing for divorce and you can then seek maintenance (spousal support). That said, you need to work toward independent living as soon as possible to take away any control that he still may have. Financial abuse is all that he has left and you need to find a way to take that from him as well; this means you working and providing for yourself.

  • mbouldin says:

    Your EPO should have had a court date/time included when it expires. You should appear in court and tell the judge you want it dismissed.

  • mbouldin says:

    You need to speak with counselor at Women’s Crisis Center. The DVO can legally protect you but ultimately, it is a piece of paper. You need to use it if you see him to have him arrested. The WCC can advise how to practically help yourself and include basic survival skills. Realize that you are responsible for the safety of you and your children and a court order can only aid in that process.

  • mbouldin says:

    If you have not been served they cannot mandate you to be there. Each court will independently determine if either EPO – or both EPOs – have merit.

  • Ron Vallie says:

    My step daughter, who will do anything to break me and her mother up, recently had me served with a summons here in Kentucky with an EPO. Although her alligations whatever they are are not true. I have been offered a job in North Dakota and need to get to it. Its to good to pass up. My question is, what will happen if I dont show up to the family court hearing?

  • mbouldin says:

    If she shows up, the court will likely enter a Domestic Violence Order against you. The court can have this order entered for 3 years where you may not be permitted around her or within 500 feet of where she lives.

  • R Godbey says:

    My wifes ex got a DVO against his father and has since moved back on the same property that the incident occured. Is the ex in violation of his own DVO that he motioned and received?

  • mbouldin says:

    Probably not. The only person who can be guilty of violating a DVO is the Respondent/Defendant. A domestic violence Order is against the Defendant . Therefore, the person bringing the charges has nothing from the Court which impinges their rights. Judges do not appreciate that if someone claims domestic violence then moves back into the same household. If the case reappears in court, the Judge is in a position of believing that the victim is either (1) very stupid; and/or (2) lying about the abuse/violence or their fear of future abuse. It is not uncommon, but the likelihood of issuing a new order goes down considerably if the person returns to the property.

  • Siobhan P. says:

    Mr. Bouldin,

    Three years ago I had my sons father served with a DVO. I just recently found out that the order expired last month. Last summer our judge advised me to come back and have it extended and I had every intention on doing that but I thought that it expired this month. I recently found out that he is intending on going into the military which would be awesome if he wasn’t a psycho. I am still deathly afraid of this man, he has moved closer to me. I am going to go back and ask our judge to issue another DVO. My question to you is this, i haven’t had any issues with him since last summer, he has in the past been arrested for violation of the DVO and also obtained an EPO from his other child’s mother last summer, what do you think my chances are of being able to get another DVO put on him just for my safety?

  • jthompson says:

    I currently have a dvo as well as epo placed against me. Well i have the samething placed on her so we can’t have any communicationat all. Being hard-headed I still decided to see her until we fell out again! she called the police on me for comming into her apartment while she wasn’t home even though she gave me key’s to enter! does this mean we both go to jail?

  • jthompson says:

    In this same situation she allowed me to move back in and we were suppose to be starting another relationship!! well like i said things didnt work out to well, and we fell out!! since we both have the order placed against us and she call’s the police on me how does it effect her for even having communication with me in the first place?

  • anonymous says:

    I have made a police report against my dad in fl. he lives in fl and I live in ky. he has since been calling me over and over trying to get me to meet him even after I made a statement. i am an adult and do not live with him. will they give me an epo since he lives in fl?

  • mbouldin says:

    yes, but he has to be served.

  • mbouldin says:

    It doesn’t affect her other than her credibility. The EPO is against the Respondent and the Orders only apply to the Respondent. Since she filed the EPO/DVO, there is nothing against her and she cannot be put in jail for violating any provision because they are only against the respondent (you).

  • mbouldin says:

    No. Only you go to jail.

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