Can the abuser have a gun?
Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession. There are a few places where you can find this information:
- first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in the U.S. Virgin Islands have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
- second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
- third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.
You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website.
What should I do when I leave the courthouse?
Here are some things you may want to consider doing. However, you will have to evaluate each one to see if it works for your situation.
- 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 restraining order as soon as possible.
- Keep a copy of the order with you at all times. Inform your employer, domestic violence advocate, family members, and/or your closest friends that you have a restraining 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.
- You may wish to consider changing your locks (if permitted by law) and your phone number, as well as taking other security precautions.
It is important to recognize that a restraining order has limits. You have the right to report every violation to the police or the court. You may also wish to make a safety plan. 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 abusers 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 Safety Tips.
Also, advocates at local domestic violence organizations may be able to assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support. To find an advocate in your area please visit the VI Advocates and Shelters page.
I was not granted a restraining order. What can I do?
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 may be able to help you come up with a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. You will find a list of U.S. Virgin Islands resources on our VI Advocates and Shelters page.
You can also find safety planning tips on our Safety Tips page. You may also be able to reapply for a restraining order if a new incident of domestic violence occurs after you are denied the order.
You may also want to consider reporting any criminal activity to the police. For more information about crimes in the U.S. Virgin Islands, please go to our VI Crimes page.
What can I do if the abuser violates the order?
Violating a temporary restraining order or permanent restraining order can be against the law.1 There are two ways to get help if the abuser violates the restraining order.
1. Through the police or sheriff: If the defendant violates the restraining order, you can call 911 immediately. In some cases, the defendant can be arrested right away. Tell the officers you have a restraining order, and the defendant is violating it. If the defendant is arrested, then the district attorney’s office can prosecute the abuser because it can be a crime to violate a restraining order.
2. Through the civil court system: You may also file for civil contempt when the abuser violates the order. The abuser can be in civil contempt and punished by the judge in some way if s/he does anything that your restraining order prohibits him/her from doing. 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 restraining order.
1 VI ST T. 16 § 97(e)
How do I change and/or extend my restraining order?
Before your permanent restraining order expires, you may apply to the court to have your order extended. You will have to go back to court for a hearing to tell the judge why you believe it is necessary to extend the order. If the judge believes there is good cause, s/he may extend the order. For any other changes, you can request that the judge modify (change) your order. You must show the judge that there is good cause to change the order.1
1 VI ST T. 16 § 97(d)
What happens if I move?
If you move from the U.S. Virgin Islands to another U.S. territory or state (or vice versa), your permanent restraining order 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,1 which means that your order will be good wherever you go.
Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.
1 18 U.S.C §§ 2265, 2266