Ba v. United States
809 A.2d 1178 (DC Ct. App. 2002)

Facts:

  • In December of 1999, Ms. Lashance Howard obtained Civil Protection Order (CPO) against her ex-boyfriend of four years, Mr. Ba, which was effective for a twelve-month period.
    • The CPO ordered Mr. Ba not to assault, threaten, harass, or physically abuse Ms. Howard in any manner, to stay at least 100 feet away from Ms. Howard, her home and her workplace, and prohibited him from contacting her “in any manner.
    • The CPO further explicitly warned that: “Any and every failure to comply with this order is punishable as criminal contempt and/or as a criminal misdemeanor and may result in imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.”
  • After the CPO was issued, the two tried to work out their relationship and often stayed at each other’s houses. However, this ended in mid-March.
  • Late one night on May 13, Ba was outside of her house and eventually came within 6 feet of her, saying that he “just wanted to talk.”
  • He was then arrested for violating the CPO and sentenced to 90 days in jail.
  • He argued that Ms. Howard consented to the violation of the CPO by remaining in contact with him and working on their relationship, therefore the CPO no longer had legal effect.

Issue:
Whether consent was a valid defense in this case.

Holding:
No.

Reasoning:

  • The court noted that while Mr. Ba arguably had a valid defense of consent, they need not reach the issue because even if consent was present at a point in time, it did not extend to the May incident:
    • “We need not address those issues in this case, however, because we are satisfied that on the facts of this case, any consent by Ms. Howard during the January to March 2000 period would not establish her consent after late March 2000. Indeed, the evidence establishes, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Ms. Howard revoked her consent to violation of the CPO. As of late March, Ms. Howard and Mr. Ba had no consensual contact. In fact, according to the undisputed evidence, Mr. Ba tried to approach Ms. Howard at work and she reacted by calling the police. At this point, Ms. Howard’s consent to the violation of the CPO, if such consent was possible, was effectively revoked.”
  • Thus, the elements of a CPO violation were established – i.e., 1) willful disobedience 2) of a protective court order.