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Know the Laws: Puerto Rico

UPDATED January 10, 2017

Protection Orders for Domestic Violence

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A protection order in Puerto Rico is a civil order that can try to prevent harm between people in an intimate/family relationship.

Who can get a protection order

back to topWho can file for a protection order?

Any person who has been a victim of domestic violence or a victim of any crime committed by an intimate partner (as defined in What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Puerto Rico?), can apply for a protection order.  A protection order can be requested in person or through an attorney or the police.  It is not necessary to report the abuse to the police in order to apply for one.*

Additionally, an order can be requested on behalf of any person who suffers from a physical or mental disability or, in the event of an emergency, any person who is unable to request one on their own.** 

An employer can request a protection order on behalf of his/her employees, visitors, or any other person at the workplace if:

  • one of his/her employees has been the victim of domestic violence or criminal conduct as defined in this law; and
  • the domestic violence or criminal conduct occurred at the workplace.

Before starting this procedure, however, the employer should notify the employee who has been a victim of domestic violence or criminal activity of his/her intention to do so.**

* 8 L.P.R.A. § 621
** 8 L.P.R.A. § 623

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back to topWhat types of protection orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of orders – ex parte and permanent.

Ex parte protection orders
When requesting a protection order, if you need immediate protection, tell the clerk of the court that you would also like to request an ex parte protection order.  "Ex parte" means that the abuser does not receive advance notice and is not present in the court when the order is granted.  A judge can grant an ex parte protection order if you show that there is a high probability of immediate risk of abuse or there is a chance that notifying the abuser of the order in advance will cause the harm that the protection order is intended to prevent.*

After receiving the ex parte order, the court will notify the abuser within 48 hours and will set a date for a court hearing within twenty days of issuing the order.  In this hearing, the abuser will have the chance to contest the order.  During the hearing, the court can nullify the order or extend it for a period of time deemed necessary.**

Protection orders  
If the court grants you an ex parte order of protection or if the ex parte order is not granted but the case is scheduled for a hearing within the next 5 days, you will have to go back to court so that you can present evidence to the judge.  You may be granted a protection order after a court hearing before a judge, in which both you and the abuser have an opportunity to tell your version of the story.  If the judge believes that you proved that you have suffered from domestic violence, the court will grant a protection order for the period it determines to be necessary.**

* See 8 L.P.R.A. § 625(b),(c)
** See 8 L.P.R.A. §§ 625, 624(a)

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back to topHow much does it cost? Do I need a lawyer?

It does not cost anything to request or receive a protection order.

You do not need a lawyer in order to request a protection order.  However, you might want to have a lawyer if the abuser has one.  Even if you can't afford to have a lawyer represent you, it may be a good idea to speak with one to get advice about your case and make sure that your legal rights are protected.

If you cannot afford to pay a lawyer but would like the help of one, you can find information about agencies that provide free or low-cost legal services on our page PR Finding a Lawyer.  

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