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Conviction for Violating Protection Order Reversed

The Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled on what must be proven in court before a defendant can be convicted of the misdemeanor charge of violating a protection order.

Specifically, the Court held: “To sustain a conviction for a violation of a protection order pursuant to R.C.  2919.27(A)(2), the state must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it served the defendant with the order before the alleged violation.”

In other words, in order to sustain a conviction for violating a civil stalking or sexually-oriented-offense protection order, the state must prove that the order was delivered as required by the statute.

In this case, upon termination of a rocky relationship, the former girlfriend filed a petition for an ex parte protection order.  The court granted the petition and ordered the former boyfriend to stay away.  It seems that the boyfriend did not get service of the order, and he entered her house after the protection order was in place.   He was subsequently arrested for violation of the protection order.

Ultimately, the Ohio Supreme Court held that without lawful service of the protection order on the defendant, he could not be found guilty to violation the order.   If he didn’t know about the order in the eyes of the law, he couldn’t be found guilty of violating the order.

State v. Smith, Slip Opinion No. 2013-Ohio-1698.