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Know the Laws: Puerto Rico

UPDATED March 19, 2017

Orders of Protection for the Elderly

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An order issued by a court in which the abuser is ordered to not abuse an elderly person (age 60 or older).

back to topWhat is an order of protection for the elderly?

An order of protection for the elderly is an order issued by a court that tells an abuser to stop committing acts of abuse against an elderly person.*  An elderly person is considered someone aged 60 or older.**  An order can be issued when the judge determines that there is reason to believe that the person who is requesting the order has been the victim of physical, mental or psychological abuse, harassment, coercion, intimidation, emotional abuse, or any other crime.***  You can read the exact definitions of some of these forms of abuse (in Spanish) on our PR Statutes page.

* 8 L.P.R.A. § 342(i)
** 8 L.P.R.A. § 342(a)
*** 8 L.P.R.A. § 346a

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back to topWhat is the legal definition of abuse of the elderly?

This section defines abuse of the elderly for the purposes of getting an order of protection.  Abuse is when an elderly person has been a victim of physical, mental or psychological abuse, harassment, coercion, intimidation, emotional abuse, or any other crime.*  The law defines some of these terms:

  • Abuse: Cruel or negligent treatment of an elderly person that causes harm or exposes him/her to risk of suffering harm to his/her health, welfare or property.  It includes physical, emotional, and financial abuse, neglect, abandonment, assault, theft, illegal appropriation, threat, fraud, breach of correspondence, age discrimination, civil rights restriction, exploitation and sexual abuse, among others. T his abuse can be done by doing or not doing something and can be carried out by anyone.**
  • Harassment: Words, gestures or actions directed to bother, pursue or disturb an elderly person.
  • Coercion: Physical or psychological force or violence committed against a person to compel (force) him/her to say or do something or to compel (force) him/her to not say or do something.***
  • Intimidation: Actions or words that occur repeatedly and have the effect of applying moral pressure on the intention/will of an elderly person.  For fear of suffering physical or emotional harm to him/herself, his/her property or to another person, the elderly person is compelled (forced) to perform an act against his/her will.****

* 8 L.P.R.A. § 346a
** 8 L.P.R.A. § 342(k)
*** 8 L.P.R.A. § 342(c)
**** 8 L.P.R.A. § 342(j)

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back to topWhat types of protection orders for the elderly exist?

There are two types of orders of protection. 

An ex parte temporary protection order can be issued whenever there exists a substantial likelihood that the elderly person is at immediate risk of abuse or another crime.*  (Ex parte is a term in Latin that means an order granted without notice to the other party, the abuser.)  After issuing the order, the court will immediately notify the abuser and will provide an opportunity to him/her to tell his/her version of the story.  A hearing will be scheduled within 5 days of when the ex parte order is issued.   After the hearing, the judge will decide if s/he will grant a more permanent order or not.*

A protection order is designed to protect an elderly person from abuse in a more permanent way than the ex parte order.  A protection order can be issued after a court hearing in front of a judge, in which both parties have the opportunity to present their version of what occurred.  After the hearing, the judge can grant a protection order for whatever time period the judge believes is necessary.*

* 8 L.P.R.A. § 346e

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back to topHow can a protection order help an elderly person?

The court can order one or more of the following terms:

  • Order the abuser to leave the home that s/he shares with the victim, regardless of any legal right to the home;
  • Order the abuser to stop disturbing, harassing, following, intimidating, or threatening the victim, or interfering in any other way with the his/her legal rights;
  • Prohibit the abuser from entering or remaining in the same place in which the victim can be found (if the judge believes that this limitation is necessary to prevent the abuser from bothering, intimidating, threatening or disturbing the peace of the victim or interfering with him/her in any other way);
  • In some cases, order the abuser to pay support to the victim;
  • Prohibit the abuser from making decisions about / giving away the private property of the petitioner; (Note: If it is a question of the administration of a business, a monthly report must be submitted to the court on the management of the business);
  • Order the abuser to pay financial compensation for the damages that were caused by the abuse, which may include, but it not limited to, moving expenses, expenses for repairs to property, or for legal, medical, psychiatric, or psychological expenses, counseling, housing, shelter, assistive technology or any other similar expenses;
  • Order that the owner or person in charge of a residential home or hospital where the victim is living (if applicable), to take the necessary steps to ensure that the order is not violated; and
  • Order other measures that are necessary for the safety of the victim.*

* 8 L.P.R.A § 346a(a-i)

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back to topWho can file for an order of protection for the elderly?

Any elderly person (age 60 or older) who has been a victim of abuse or any other crime in the Puerto Rico Penal Code can apply for an order of protection without the need to file a police report or criminal charges.  When the judge determines that there is sufficient reason to believe that the petitioner has been a victim of abuse or of any other crime, s/he can issue an order of protection.*

In addition, the elderly person can apply for an order of protection through someone else if the elderly person cannot go to court to file the order for any of the following reasons:

  • s/he suffers from a physical or mental disability; 
  • in case of emergency; or
  • when the person is prevented from apply for him/herself. **

* 8 L.P.R.A. § 346a
** 8 L.P.R.A. § 346c

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back to topWhat are the steps to get an order of protection for the elderly?

The steps to get an order of protection for the elderly are similar to the steps to get for an order of protection for victims of domestic violence. The procedure to get an order of protection can begin in one of the following ways:

  • By filing a verbal or written petition;
  • Within any pending case between the parties; or
  • By an application by the District Attorney in a criminal proceeding, or as a condition for probation or conditional release.
The documents are available in the court clerk’s office and the clerk can provide the necessary support and guidance to complete and submit the forms.*

* 8 L.P.R.A. § 346c  

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