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Know the Laws: Idaho

UPDATED October 9, 2016

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A protection order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by a family member, household member or someone you used to date or are currently dating.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of domestic violence in Idaho?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting an order of protection.

In Idaho, domestic violence occurs when a family member (spouse, former spouse, people related by blood, marriage, or adoption), a household member (person who you currently live with, or used to live with, and people that have a child in common), or someone who you date or used to date does any of the following to you:

  • physical injury;
  • sexual abuse;
  • forced imprisonment; or
  • threatening to commit any of the above acts.*
If a protection order has been granted and the abuser (respondent) has notice, a violation of the order can be a misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $5,000.**

* I.C. § 39-6303(1),(3),(6)
** I.C. § 39-6312

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back to topWhat are protection orders? What types are there?

A protection order is a written court order. It is designed to order your abuser not to be violent and harassing in any way, and to protect you and your family from the abuser.

In Idaho, there are two types of protection orders for domestic violence victims: temporary orders and permanent orders.

Temporary Orders. Temporary orders or ex parte orders are issued when a person is in immediate danger. You have to go to court and file a petition for a temporary order. The petition must be filed in the county where you live, where your abuser lives, or where you are temporarily living.* A judge has the power to grant one without your abuser being in court to argue his side of the case. However, temporary orders are granted only if you can prove to the judge - through your story or evidence - that you need a temporary order to prevent immediate harm to you or your family.

A judge will assume that, if you are asking for a temporary or emergency order, you will also want a permanent order.

The order is not enforceable until the abuser is “served” with it. An abuser is served when he has been given a copy of the ex parte order, a copy of the petition that you filed, and notice of the hearing date. In general, a temporary order will lasts for 14 days, or until you have a court hearing for a permanent order.

A temporary order can:

  • restrain the abuser from committing acts of domestic violence
  • order the abuser to leave a shared residence until further order of the court
  • restrain the abuser from interfering with your custody of minor children, or removing children from the jurisdiction of the court
  • restrain the abuser from contacting, molesting, or interfering with minor children in your custody
  • other relief that the judge thinks necessary**
Permanent Orders. Permanent orders offer longer-term protection. A judge can only give you a permanent order after a court hearing in which you and the abuser are both given the opportunity to tell your sides of the story.

Even though they are called permanent orders, they don't automatically last forever. Relief granted in a permanent order is effective for up to one year. The order can become permanent if the court decides that is necessary.***  It is important to be aware when your order expires. You need to ask the court for an extension before the order expires, or you may have to re-petition for a new order. You may be able to have it renewed without a hearing if your abuser does not object to it. You are also able to ask the court to terminate your permanent order. See How do I change or extend the protection order? below.

* I.C. § 39-6304(6)
** I.C. § 39-6308
***I.C. § 39-6306(5)

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back to topIn which county can I file for an order of protection?

You can file for an order of protection in the county where the abuser lives, where you live (where your permanent residence is located) or where you are temporarily living in order to escape the abuse.*

However, if you have left the home and want to keep the address where you are staying confidential, filing in that county would likely not be a good idea since it would alert the abuser to the fact that you are living in that county.

* I.C. § 39-6304

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back to topHow can a protection order help me?

A temporary ex parte protection order can do any of the following:

  • Order the abuser to not commit acts of domestic violence;
  • Remove the abuser from a home s/he shares with you or from your home;
  • Order the abuser to not interfere with your custody of the children and/or not remove your children from the state;
  • Order the abuser to not contact, bother, interfere with, or threaten minor children in your custody - and keep the abuser away from any residence or location to accomplish this;
  • Allow the respondent to take only personal clothing and toiletries and any other items specifically ordered by the court but nothing else; and
  • Order other relief that the judge believes is necessary for your protection or the protection of your family or household member(s), including orders or directives to a peace officer.*

A final protection order can do any of the following:

  • Order the abuser to not commit acts of domestic violence;
  • Remove the abuser from a home s/he shares with you or from your home;
  • Grant you temporary custody of your children for up to 3 months if you can show that there is an immediate and present danger of domestic violence to you;
  • Order the abuser to not contact, bother, interfere with, or threaten minor children in your custody - and keep the abuser away from any residence or location accomplish this;
  • Order the abuser to stay at least 1,500 feet (or another appropriate distance) away from you, your home, your school, your workplace, or any specific place where you, your children, or another family/household member frequently go;
  • Order other relief that the judge believes is necessary for your protection or the protection of your family or household member(s), including orders or directives to a peace officer;
  • Order the abuser to get counseling or treatment; and
  • Order the abuser to pay your attorney's fees and costs.**

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

* ID Code § 39-6308(1)
** ID Code § 39-6306(1)

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Who is eligible for a protection order

back to topWho can get a protection order?

You may file for a protection order if you have been the victim of abuse by:

  • Your spouse or former spouse;
  • Your parent;
  • Your brother or sister;
  • Your grandparent;
  • Family members related to you by blood, adoption, or marriage;
  • Anyone you live with or formerly lived with;
  • Anyone with whom you have had a child even if you were not married; or
  • Anyone you are or were in a dating relationship with.*
A custodial or noncustodial parent or guardian may file a petition on behalf of a minor child (under 18)** who is the victim of domestic violence.*

In Idaho, you can apply for a protection order against a current or former same-sex partner.

* I.C. § 39-6304; § 39-6303
** I.C. § 32-101

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back to topCan I get a protection order against a same-sex partner?

In Idaho, you may apply for a protection order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who can get a protection order?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Idaho?

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

There is no cost to get a protection order.*

You do not need a lawyer to file for a protection order, however, it may be helpful to have one to make sure that your rights are protected, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  If when you go to the hearing, the respondent (abuser) has a lawyer, you have the right to request that the hearing be delayed so that you can obtain a lawyer as well.  Also, the law says that if the judge believes that it is necessary for both parties to be represented by lawyers, the judge can enter an order to ensure that lawyers are retained. The order may require either you or respondent (or both) to pay for the costs of counsel.  If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can try to get a lawyer through a local legal services organization if you qualify.  Go to ID Finding a Lawyer for legal referrals. 

If you are representing yourself, the domestic violence organizations in your area and/or court staff may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary court forms. 

* I.C. § 39-6305
** I.C. § 39-6306(1)

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back to topWhat can I do if I don't qualify for a protection order?

Even if you don't qualify for an order, the abuser may be committing a crime.  To read the definitions of some crimes in Idaho, you can go to our ID Crimes page. If charges are pressed against the perpetrator, a judge may be able to order him/her to stay away from you through a criminal court protection order.

Victims of stalking and harassment can also go to the Stalking Resource Center website for more information on stalking and harassment laws, as well as ways to keep safe.

Protection orders also do not cover many types of emotional or mental abuse. If you're being emotionally abused, please contact a domestic violence organization in your area. They can help you figure out your options and offer you support. To find help in your state, please click on the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

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Steps to get a protection order

back to topStep 1: Go to court and request a petition.

Go to the courthouse for your county. In most counties you will file in the Magistrate Division, but in a few, you will file in District Court. You can find a court near you by going to our Courthouse Locations page.

Find the civil court clerk and request a petition (application) for a protection order. Also tell the clerk that you want a temporary order. You can file for them at the same time.

The clerk can give you the petition and any other forms you will need to fill out. You can also find links to online forms by going to ID Download Court Forms.

Remember to bring some form of identification, like your driver's license or other ID that includes your picture. It can also be helpful to bring any identifying information you have about your abuser, such as his picture, addresses where he lives and works, and a description of his car.

Note: Idaho has Court Assistance Offices (CAO), which provide various services to the public to help ensure equal access to the courts. Services include: review of CAO court forms and documents before they are filed; availability of public access computers for interactive forms; help with general form/document questions; assistance with calculating child support and completing a parenting plan; collection of instructional videos, brochures, and pamphlets on topics such as introduction to the court system, family law matters, domestic violence, etc.; legal research assistance on Law Library web site.  To find your local office, click here.

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back to topStep 2: Fill out the forms.

Carefully fill out the forms. Write briefly about the most recent incident of violence, using descriptive language - words like "slapping", "hitting", "grabbing", "choking", "threatening", etc. - that fits your situation. Be specific. Include details and dates, if you can.

On these forms, you will be referred to as the "petitioner" and your abuser will be called the "respondent".

A domestic violence organization may be able to provide you with help filling out the form. See Where to Find Help for the location of an organization near you.

Do not sign the petition until you have shown it to a clerk. It may need to be notarized or signed in the presence of court personnel.

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back to topStep 3: A judge will review your petition.

After you finish filling out your petition, bring it to the court clerk. The clerk will forward it to a judge. The judge may want to ask you questions as s/he looks over your petition.

After looking your petition over, the judge will decide whether or not to give you a temporary protection order.

Whether or not you get a temporary order, the judge will set a hearing date for a permanent order. You will be given papers that tell you when your hearing will be, usually within 14 days.

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back to topStep 4: Service of process

Your abuser has to be given paperwork from the court that tells him about any temporary orders you have and information about when the hearing for a permanent order will be. When he is given that paperwork, he has been "served".

Your temporary order will not go into effect until your abuser has been served. Usually law enforcement personnel will attempt to serve the abuser in person.

The court will send copies of the order and notice of hearing to the police or sheriff. Do not try and serve the abuser in person with the papers yourself.

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back to topStep 5: What will I have to prove at the hearing?

To get a protection order against your abuser, you must:

  • Prove that the abuser has committed acts of domestic violence (as defined by the law) against you or your children.
  • Convince a judge that you need protection and the specific things you asked for in your petition.
See the next section for ways you can show the judge that you were abused.

See the Preparing your Case section under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused.

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back to topStep 6: The hearing

When you went to court to fill out your petition, the judge should have given you a date to return to court for a hearing.  You must go to that hearing.  If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire and you will have to start the process over.  It may be helpful to have a lawyer at the hearing to make sure that your rights are protected, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  If when you go to the hearing, the respondent (abuser) has a lawyer, you have the right to request that the hearing be delayed so that you can obtain a lawyer as well.  Also, the law says that if the judge believes that it is necessary for both parties to be represented by lawyers, the judge can enter an order to ensure that lawyers are retained. The order may require either you or respondent (or both) to pay for the costs of counsel.*  If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can try to get a lawyer through a local legal services organization if you qualify.  Go to ID Finding a Lawyer for legal referrals. 

If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you a protection order or the judge may order a new hearing date.

* I.C. § 39-6306(1)

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After the hearing

back to topWhat should I do when I leave the courtroom?

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave.
  • Make several copies of the protection order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Inform your employer, domestic violence advocate, minister, clergy, family members, and/or your closest friends that you have a protection order in effect.
  • Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number.
It is important to realize that a protection order has limits. To make it as effective as possible, you must be vigilant in enforcing the order's provisions by reporting every violation to the police or the court.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order.  People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  Click on the following link for suggestions on Staying Safe.  Advocates at a local organization can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.  Go to ID State and Local Programs for organizations near you.

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back to topWhat can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Call the police or sheriff, even if you think it is a minor violation.  An abuser can be arrested, fined and/or jailed.  If your order was granted and abuser was given notice, a violation can be a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine up to $5,000.*

It is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case.

Make sure a police report is filled out, even if the police do not arrest your abuser. If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it can help you change or extend the order.

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back to topHow do I change or extend the protection order?

Protection orders can be renewed for an "appropriate" time period as directed by the judge or they can be made permanent.*  If you want an extension, you have to return to court to file a motion before your first order expires.

If the abuser objects to the extension, there will be a hearing where the abuser can be present and you will have to prove to the judge why you need the order extended. The abuser will have the chance to object to the order being extended.  If the abuser does not object to the extension, then you will not have this hearing and the order can be extended without going back to court.*

* I.C. § 39-6306(5)

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back to topWhat happens if I move? Is my order still effective?

Your protection order is automatically good throughout Idaho as well as in other states.  Federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it is valid wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.*  Different states may have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders.  You may want to talk to a local domestic violence program in the state where you will be living for more information. 

You may also call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing an out-of-state order.

* 18 U.S.C. §§ 2265, 2266

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