Off-Post Enforcement of Military Protective Orders

By 1st Lt. Raquel Ruiz, Fort Bliss Legal Assistance Office

Military Protective Orders are lawful orders issued by a commander that require a Soldier to cease and avoid contact with those persons mentioned in the order. These orders are issued using Department of Defense Form 2873. MPOs are often used after sexual assault or domestic violence incidents to protect the alleged victim from the alleged perpetrator. A MPO can ensure that an alleged perpetrator maintains a certain distance between themselves and the alleged victim and that communications are terminated.

MPOs remain in effect until the commander terminates the order. Commanders are responsible for reporting all changes in the subject’s status (such as TDY or deployment) to the alleged victim and local military law enforcement agencies. If a subject is reassigned or transferred, the losing commander must cancel the MPO and the gaining commander may elect to continue the MPO by issuing a new DD 2873.

While MPOs play a big role in ensuring safety for victims, they do not offer absolute protection. MPOs are not subject to enforcement by civilian law enforcement agencies. Although civilian authorities may be aware that an MPO exists, they cannot enforce it like they can a Civilian Protective Order. They can, however, notify the listed POC of potential violations.

Violations of MPOs, even those that occur off-post, are punishable under Article 92 (Violation of or Failure to Obey a Lawful Order) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Penalties for a violation of an MPO can include docked pay, imprisonment, administrative separation, dishonorable discharge, and more.

In short, MPOs cannot be enforced off-post, but violations of an MPO off-post are still punishable under the UCMJ.

Because MPOs are not enforceable by civilian law enforcement, it is often in the best interest of the victim to acquire both an MPO and a CPO. A CPO is issued by a judge, magistrate, or other authorized civilian official. While an MPO is not enforceable off-post, a CPO is enforceable everywhere, to include on an installation. MPOs also do not prevent a subject from possessing firearms, while many CPOs do. Further, a CPO can often be more permanent, as it is not reliant on a subject’s military status or command.

 If you have any questions on identity theft, please schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney at Fort Bliss Legal Assistance Office by either calling (915) 568-7141 during office hours or emailing anytime.