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Legal Statutes: Rhode Island

UPDATED May 25, 2017

Rhode Island Statutes

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Chapter 8-8.1. Domestic Assault

back to top8-8.1-3. Protective orders--Penalty--Jurisdiction

(a) A person suffering from domestic abuse may file a complaint in the district court requesting any order which will protect her or him from the abuse, including but not limited to the following:

(1) Ordering that the defendant be restrained and enjoined from contacting, assaulting, molesting or otherwise interfering with the plaintiff at home, on the street, or elsewhere, whether the defendant is an adult or minor;

(2) Ordering the defendant to vacate the household forthwith, unless the defendant holds sole legal interest in the household;

(3) Upon motion by the plaintiff, his or her address shall be released only at the discretion of the district court judge.

(4) After notice to the respondent and after a hearing, the court may order the defendant to surrender physical possession of all firearms in his or her possession, care, custody or control.

(b) Any individual who accepts physical possession of a firearm pursuant to this section is prohibited from returning any firearm to any defendant under a restraining order during the existence of the restraining order. Violation of this provision shall subject both the defendant and the individual responsible for the return of the firearm to the defendant, to being found in contempt of court.

(c) The district court shall provide a notice on all forms requesting a protective order that, at the hearing for a protective order, the defendant may be ordered to surrender possession or control of any firearms and not to purchase or receive or attempt to purchase or receive any firearms for a period not to exceed the duration of the restraining order.

(d) If the defendant is present in court at a duly noticed hearing, the court may, in addition to any other restrictions, order the defendant to physically surrender any firearm(s) in that person's immediate physical possession or control, or subject to that person's immediate physical possession or control, within twenty-four (24) hours of the order, by surrendering the possession of the firearm(s) to the control of any individual not legally prohibited from possessing a firearm who is not related to the defendant by blood, marriage, or relationship as defined by § 15-15-1(3), (4), or (5) of the Rhode Island general laws, or by surrendering any firearm(s) to the Rhode Island state police or local police department, or by surrendering the firearm(s) to a licensed gun dealer. If the defendant is not present at the hearing, the defendant shall surrender the firearm(s) within forty-eight (48) hours after being served with the order. A person ordered to surrender possession of any firearm(s) pursuant to this subsection shall file with the court a receipt showing the firearm(s) was either physically surrendered to an individual not legally prohibited from possessing a firearm who is not related to the defendant by blood, marriage, or relationship as defined by § 15-15-1(3), (4), or (5) or surrender to a licensed gun dealer within seventy-two (72) hours after receiving the order. Any defendant transporting a firearm to surrender in accordance with the above shall not be liable to prosecution under § 11-47- 8.

(e) Nothing in this section shall limit a defendant's right under existing law to petition the court at a later date for modification of the order.

(f) The prohibition against possessing a firearm(s) due solely to the existence of a domestic violence restraining order issued under this section shall not apply with respect to sworn peace officers as defined in § 12-7-21 and active members of military service including members of the reserve components thereof, who are required by law or departmental policy to carry departmental firearms while on duty or any person who is required by their employment to carry a firearm in the performance of their duties. Any individual exempted pursuant to this exception may possess a firearm only during the course of their employment. Any firearm required for employment must be stored at the place of employment when not being possessed for employment use; all other firearm(s) must be surrendered in accordance with § 8-8.1-3.

(g) Any violation of the aforementioned protective order shall subject the defendant to being found in contempt of court.

(h) No order shall issue under this section which would have the effect of compelling a defendant who has the sole legal interest in a residence to vacate that residence.

(i) The contempt order shall not be exclusive and shall not preclude any other available civil or criminal remedies. Any relief granted by the court shall be for a fixed period of time not to exceed three (3) years, at the expiration of which time the court may extend any order upon motion of the plaintiff for such additional time as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff from abuse. The court may modify its order at any time upon motion of either party.

(j) Any violation of a protective order under this chapter of which the defendant has actual notice shall be a misdemeanor which shall be punished by a fine of no more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

(k) The penalties for violation of this section shall also include the penalties provided under § 12-29-5.

(l) "Actual notice" means that the defendant has received a copy of the order by service thereof or by being handed a copy of the order by a police officer pursuant to § 8-8.1-5(d).

(m) The district court shall have criminal jurisdiction over all violations of this chapter.

History:. P.L. 1985, ch. 492, § 2; P.L. 1988, ch. 539, § 4; P.L. 1995, ch. 148, § 1; P.L. 1997, ch. 326, § 7; P.L. 2005, ch. 148, § 2; P.L. 2005, ch. 153, § 3.