What Is the Difference Between a TPO and a CPO?

A TPO (Temporary Protection Order) and a CPO (Civil Protection Order) are very similar, but there are a few very important distinctions. Both are court orders issued by a judge that restrict the contact one person can have with another. In short, they are "stay away" or "no contact" orders. The order is issued against a single person and prohibits him from contacting or going near named individuals. A violation of either a TPO or CPO is a criminal offense and is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000.00. Both the TPO and CPO can also restrict a person's access to his home, family, firearms, and require or prohibit many other actions. In both cases, a defendant or respondent is entitled to a hearing and to have legal representation.

The primary differences between a TPO and a CPO are the court that issues the orders as well as the scope and length of the restrictions. A TPO is issued by a criminal court in conjunction with a criminal case against a criminal defendant, usually a person charged with domestic violence. It is usually issued at or near arraignment and is done so at the request of the complaining witness. The TPO ends when the criminal case is over (via a plea, dismissal, or conclusion of a trial). The TPO is also limited in scope to issues of contact and involvement between a criminal defendant and the complaining witness, children, or other family members.

In contrast, the CPO is issued by a domestic relations or common pleas court. Like the TPO the grounds for seeking/granting a CPO are commonly allegations of abuse, violence, or threat of violence. However, a CPO can be granted for much longer, up to 5 years. The CPO can also deal with issues related to child support, custody, visitation and other "domestic" matters.

Both the TPO and CPO impose serious restrictions on a person, and it is advised that should you be facing a TPO or CPO you should seek legal representation.