Know the Laws: U.S. Virgin Islands
UPDATED June 5, 2012
A restraining order in the Virgin Islands is a civil order that provides protection from threats, assault, rape, kidnapping and other acts which may be harmful to you.
It is important to recognize that a restraining order has limits. You must be vigilant in enforcing the order by reporting every violation to the police or the court. You may also wish to make a safety plan. Women 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 restraining 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.
Also, advocates at local domestic violence organizations can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support. To find an advocate in your area please visit the Virgin Island State and Local Programs page.
If the judge refuses to grant you a permanent restraining order, s/he must state in writing the specific reasons the order was refused. If you are not granted a restraining order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you come up with a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. You will find a list of VI resources on our VI State and Local Programs page.
You can also find safety planning tips on our Staying Safe page. You may also be able to reapply for a restraining order if you have new evidence to show the court that domestic violence did occur, or if a new incident of domestic violence occurs after you are denied the order.
You may also want to consider stalking charges. For more information about what stalking is, please go to our VI Legal Statutes Page.
Violating a permanent restraining order (PRO) is against the law. There are 2 ways to get help if the abuser violates the PRO.
1. Through the Police or Sheriff (Criminal) If the defendant violates the PRO, call 911 immediately. In some cases, the defendant can be arrested right away. Tell the officers you have a PRO and the defendant is violating it. If the defendant is arrested, then the District Attorney can prosecute the abuser because it is a crime to violate a PRO.
2. Through the Civil Court System (Civil) You may also file for civil contempt when the abuser violates the order. The abuser is in "civil contempt" if s/he does anything that your PRO orders him/her not to do. To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk's office and ask for the forms to file for contempt of court for violation of a PRO.
Before your PRO expires, you may apply to the court to have your order extended. You will have to go back to court for a short hearing to tell the judge why you believe it is necessary to extend the order. If the judge feels there is good cause, s/he will extend the order. For any other changes, call the clerk of court to find out how you can include them on your order. You can find this contact information on the VI Courthouse Locations page.
Note: The court may be less willing to offer you its protection in the future if you have an order dismissed (canceled).
From the Virgin Islands to another US Territory or State: Your PRO can be enforced even if you move to another territory or to the United States. If you move, your order must be given "full faith and credit" in any other state, territorial or tribal court.* That means that your order will be good wherever you go. Some states require that you register your order with them before it is effective. If you move, you should call the battered women's program in the state where you are going to find out how that state treats out-of-state orders.
To the Virgin Islands: Restraining orders from other states are valid in the Virgin Islands as long as the abuser received notice of the order and was given an opportunity to be heard by the court.
Military Bases: Permanent restraining orders may not be enforceable on military bases, and military protective orders (MPO's) are not enforceable off base. Please check with your local police department, court clerk, and/or domestic violence advocate for more details. Please see our Military Info page for more information.
* 18 U.S.C 2265 & 2266