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Legal Information: Federal


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June 25, 2013

Are MPOs and civil protective orders (CPOs) valid wherever I go?

The answer is different for each type of order. An MPO will not be directly enforced off the installation by civilian courts or police. However, local police often have an agreement (called a "memorandum of understanding" or "MOU") with the installation to detain (hold) someone who may have committed a violation until military police can respond. Regardless of whether there is a response at the time of the incident, it can still be a violation of a command order to violate the MPO off the installation and the commander can (but does not have to) discipline the service member for any violation.*

According to military rules, Service members are supposed to follow a CPO even while on the installation. Commanders and law enforcement officers are supposed to take all reasonable measures necessary to ensure that a CPO is given full force and effect on all installations that are within the jurisdiction of the court that issued such order. Active duty Service members who fail to follow a CPO may be subject to administrative and/ or disciplinary action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.** The civil court judge who issued the CPO can also punish the abuser for a violation of the CPO even if it occurred on base. Also, civilians who violate a CPO, including Department of Defense civilian employees, may be barred from the installation.***

* DoD Instruction 6400.06 (Incorporating Change 1, September 20, 2011), section
** DoD Instruction 6400.06 (Incorporating Change 1, September 20, 2011), sections;

*** DoD Instruction 6400.06 (Incorporating Change 1, September 20, 2011), sections;

Do I need both an MPO and a civil protective order?

It may be a good idea to try to get both a military protective order (MPO) and a civil protective order (CPO) so that you are protected to the fullest extent.  If you already have a CPO, you can still ask for an MPO.  The terms of an MPO cannot contradict (go against) the terms of a CPO.  An MPO can possibly place more restrictions on the abuser than a CPO and it could apply to the Service member even while s/he is overseas (unlike a CPO).*

Most military families leave the installation frequently to shop, attend school, work, visit friends, or go to restaurants and some might live off of the installation.  Given the limitations on MPO enforcement off the installation, it may be best to consider seeking a civilian protective order as well as an MPO.  Although in most communities, the civilian police are asked to detain (hold) a service member who violates an MPO until s/he can be turned over to the military police, local civilian authorities may not realize that they do have the power to act when an MPO is violated.  Therefore, a civilian protective order is often recommended.

The victim advocate in the FAP and the local civilian domestic violence agency can both be resources to explain the process for applying for a CPO in your area.  You can also talk to a lawyer off the installation to see if you are eligible for a CPO and/ or to seek representation in the court hearing.  Go to the Finding a Lawyer page and enter your state into the drop-down menu.

Note: Proceedings surrounding MPOs may not be confidential depending on what military installation you are on.  So if you are concerned about your privacy or safety, it is best to consult a local domestic violence agency to discuss your options when seeking a civil or military protective order.

* Department of Defense Instruction, Number 6400.06, Incorporating Change 1, September 20, 2011, sections;