Have You Been Charged With Violation of an EPO/DVO/IPO in Kentucky?

EPO/DVO/IPO Offenses

At Mashni Law Criminal Defense, we have a deep understanding of the complexities and nuances surrounding Emergency Protective Orders (EPO), Domestic Violence Orders (DVO), and Interpersonal Protection Orders (IPO) in Kentucky. These legal measures are designed to provide protection and relief to individuals who find themselves in threatening situations, involving domestic violence or interpersonal disputes. The Kentucky legal system takes these matters extremely seriously, and so do we. Navigating the process of obtaining or contesting an EPO, DVO, or IPO can be immensely challenging, requiring not only a strong grasp of the law but also a sensitive and strategic approach to each unique case. Our Lexington-based law firm is committed to providing compassionate, expert legal guidance to ensure the safety and rights of all involved parties are preserved. Whether you are seeking protection or find yourself unjustly accused, we are here to help.
Facing issues related to Emergency Protective Orders, Domestic Violence Orders, or Interpersonal Protection Orders can be overwhelming and frightening. Call our office or schedule a free case evaluation today, and find out how Mashni Law Criminal Defense can offer you the support and legal representation you need during this critical time.

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EPOs, DVOs, and IPOs are petitioned for in civil court by the person who wishes to be protected. These are civil documents, enforced by civil court orders. They are commonly referred to as protective orders. Thus, if someone has obtained one of these protective orders against you, you must follow the requirements of the order. You have not necessarily been charged with a crime if a protective order has been granted against you. However, violating a protective order is a crime. Additionally, protective orders are often granted in conjunction with criminal charges.

There are three types of protective orders, or what is commonly referred to as restraining orders: Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs), Interpersonal Protective Orders (IPOs), and Domestic Violence Orders (DVOs). Protective orders are covered in Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 403.  

An EPO, or Emergency Protective Order, is a legal document issued by the court on a petition by the alleged victim of domestic violence, abuse, stalking, or sexual assault. It is designed to provide immediate protection for the victim and any other individuals, such as children, who may be at risk. 

Issuance of an EPO requires that there be an imminent threat of harm or danger to the victim. The document is meant to prevent contact between the alleged abuser and the victim and may also include provisions for temporary custody of children, as well as restrictions on possession of firearms. 

EPOs are typically valid for a short period of time, usually around 14 days. During this time, the person against whom the petition has been filed can refute the claims that the victim made in order to obtain the Order. The alleged victim will also often put on evidence, usually in the form of testimony, giving the reasons by an EPO should be extended to a more permanent form of protection such as an IPO or DVO. 

An IPO, or Interpersonal Protective Order, is a legal document that, like an EPO, provides the alleged victim with protection against domestic violence, abuse, stalking, or sexual harassment. Unlike an EPO, which is temporary and issued during an emergency, an IPO can be in effect for up to three years. 

To obtain an IPO, the alleged victim must show that they have been the victim of domestic violence or abuse by providing evidence such as police reports, medical records, or witness statements. An IPO may include provisions similar to those in an EPO, such as no contact orders and custody arrangements, but may also include additional protections such as mandatory counseling for the alleged abuser. 

 A DVO, or Domestic Violence Order, is very similar to an IPO in terms of its purpose and provisions in that it is issued by the court, again, to protect victims of domestic violence, abuse, stalking, or assault. Where a DVO differs is in that it is specifically tailored to address situations in which the victim and alleged abuser have or had a domestic relationship such as being married or living together. 

In order to obtain a DVO, the petitioner must provide evidence of the domestic violence or abuse, similar to what is required for an IPO. This includes evidence such as police reports, medical records, or witness statements. The length of time that a DVO is valid varies, but it can generally be extended after the initial period has expired if the victim petitions for an extension and gives sufficient evidence. 




Elements of a crime are the things that must be proven in order for the defendant to be convicted. 

The elements of an EPO, IPO, or DVO violation are overarchingly similar. There must be a protective order in place. The defendant must know of the protective order’s existence. The defendant must have intended to violate one or more provisions of the order. If all these elements are met, then there must also not be any legal excuse as to why the violation occurred.  




 The definitions for many family offenses are listed in KRS §403.720. 

 Domestic violence and abuse means physical injury, serious physical injury, stalking, sexual abuse, strangulation, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical injury, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, strangulation, or assault between family members or members of an unmarried couple. It also means any conduct prohibited by a series of statutes: KRS §§ 525.125, 525.130, 525.135, or 525.137, or the infliction of fear of such conduct, taken against a domestic animal when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a family member or member of an unmarried couple who has a close bond of affection to the domestic animal. 

Family member means a spouse, including a former spouse, a grandparent, a grandchild, a parent, an adult sibling, a child, a stepchild, or any person living in the same household as a child if the child is the alleged victim. 

Member of an unmarried couple means each member of an unmarried couple which allegedly has a child in common, any children of that couple, or a member of an unmarried couple who are living together or have formerly lived together. 

Order of protection means an emergency order or a domestic violence order and includes a foreign protective order. 

Substantial violation means criminal conduct which involves actual or threatened harm to the person, family, or property, including a domestic animal, of an individual protected by an order of protection. 




 In Kentucky, violating a protective order a Class A misdemeanor, subjecting the offender to a potential incarceration period of up to one year and/or fines of up to $500. The actual penalties can differ based on the specifics of the case, with more severe punishments being imposed if the violations involves acts of violence or threats of violence. 

Because violating a protective order is a crime, a finding that a person violated a protective order can result in a criminal record, which can have long-term implications on future employment opportunities, housing applications, and more. 




 There are some important things to note to understand EPO/DVO/IPO violations and the consequences being subject to a protective order. 

Firearms: a person against whom a protective order has been filed may have his firearms seized without prior warning, pursuant to an ex parte EPO, depending on the severity of the allegations of threat to the victim (ex parteessentially means only one side tells their story). U.S. v. Calor, 340 F.3d 428 (E.D.Ky. 2001). 

 Ex parte versus full hearing: EPOs, which are effective for 14 days, can be granted following a hearing in which only the alleged victim puts on evidence, usually in the form of testimony. However, DVOs and IPOs cannot be issued or denied without a full hearing, so that both sides are heard on the issue. Wright v. Wright, 181 S.W.3d 49 (Ky.App. 2005).  




Protective order violations can be defended against in a variety of ways. As with any strategy, the best defense will depend on the specific circumstances, but four common defenses are listed below. 

  • Lack of knowledge: this defense asserts that the defendant was not properly served with the protective order or was not aware of its existence; in order for a violation to have occurred, the defendant must have been aware of the order and intentionally disregarded it. 
  • False accusations: the defense might involve providing evidence or witnesses to contradict the accuser’s version of events; one example of this might include showing that the defendant could not be at the location that the accuser says he or she was at. 
  • Accidental violation: in some cases, the alleged violation may be the result of a misunderstanding or lack of clarity in the order; for example, the defendant may have misinterpreted the terms of the EPO or been unaware of certain restrictions and had a good faith basis for this mistake. 
  • Necessity or emergency: there may be situations where a violation is justified due to an emergency or necessity; as is always the case, this defense is highly dependent on the specific circumstances. 

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