In the District of Columbia Civil Protective Orders (CPO’s) are available to
individuals who have had a crime committed against them, or have had a crime threatened against them, by someone with whom they have had certain types of previous relationships. A standard CPO will include a provision that the person to whom the protective order is enforceable against cannot contact the protected person either directly or indirectly and can also restrict social media and electronic contact.
For the most part this seems straightforward enough, but social media accounts can create many pitfalls. For instance what about tagging someone who is protected by a CPO? The answer may surprise you. Another area of concern is how courts will treat protected parties who receive “notifications” from the social media company (e.g. Facebook, Instagram) about actions by the other party? To avoid any potential liability the best course of action may be to delete your accounts, or short of that block the other person so as to not risk any violations. Before blocking the other person you should check with the social media company that the person being blocked will not receive any sort of notification of being blocked. Contempt of a CPO can lead to civil and criminal penalties with fines up to $1,000 and possible jail time so its best to do everything to make sure compliance is assured.