What is the legal definition of domestic violence?
This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a protective order. According to Alaska law, domestic violence is when a “household member” commits or attempts to commit one or more of the following crimes against you or against another household member (but s/he doesn’t have to be arrested):
- a “crime against the person,” which includes the crimes listed in chapter 11.41 of the law (or similar crimes in other states);
- burglary (1st degree and 2nd degree);
- criminal trespass (1st degree and 2nd degree);
- arson (1st degree, 2nddegree, and 3rd degree);
- criminally negligent burning (1st degree and 2nd degree);
- criminal mischief (1st degree, 2nd degree, 3rd degree, 4th degree, and 5th degree);
- terroristic threatening (1st degree and 2nd degree);
- harassment (2nd degree - but only sections (a)(2),(3),(4));
- violating a protective order - (but only section (a)(1)); and
- cruelty to animals if the animal is a pet (but only section (a)(5)).1
Note: A “household member” does not have to live with you.
In your petition for a protective order, and when you speak to the judge, you should describe what the abuser did to make you need the court’s protection. You are not responsible for knowing exactly what criminal law the abuser violated.
1 Alaska Statute § 18.66.990(3)
What types of domestic violence protective orders are there? How long do they last?
There are three types of domestic violence protective orders:
An emergency order is a temporary, emergency order that a police officer requests from a judge (orally, in writing, in person or by telephone) on behalf of a victim of domestic violence with the victim’s consent. If the judge believes that the petitioner (victim) is in immediate danger of domestic violence based on an allegation that domestic violence recently occurred, the judge is supposed to issue the emergency protective order. It generally lasts for 72 hours.1
An ex parte order is a temporary order that you would request from the judge in court for immediate protection. To get this order, the judge must believe (from reading your petition) that you have been the victim of domestic violence and that an immediate protective order is necessary. It generally lasts for 20 days. If a lot of time has passed between the incident and when you file, the judge cannot deny your request for an ex parte protective order based only on the fact that you didn’t file immediately after the incident.2
A final order (also called a “long-term” order), is issued by the judge following a hearing in court. At the hearing, the judge will review your petition (request) for a protective order as well as any evidence or witnesses you bring to court with you. If you are granted a final order, the order will last for one year although the term that “prohibits the respondent from threatening to commit or committing domestic violence, stalking, or harassment” can last until “further order of the court.”3
1 Alaska Statute § 18.66.110(b)
2 Alaska Statute § 18.66.110(a),(d)
3 Alaska Statute § 18.66.100(b)
What protections can I get in a domestic violence protective order?
A final (long-term) domestic violence protective order can:
- Order the abuser not to commit or threaten to commit domestic violence, stalking, or harassment; (Note: This protection can remain in effect longer than 1 year - until “further order of the court”);
- Order the abuser not to call, contact, or communicate with you in any way, directly or indirectly;
- Give you the sole possession and use of your house, vehicle, pet, and other personal items, even if the abuser’s name is on the rental agreement or s/he has some type of ownership interest in the residence, vehicle or pet;
- Exclude (remove) the abuser from your shared home, regardless of ownership of the home, and/or order the abuser to stay away from your house, school or work or any other specified place;
- Order the abuser not to get into a vehicle that you possess or that you are in;
- Request that a peace officer go with you to your house to make sure that you get possession of your house, vehicle or personal items;
- Prohibit the abuser from taking controlled substances (drugs);
- Anything else the court determines is needed to protect you or your household members from further violence;
- Award you temporary custody of your children and arrange for visitation if you and the child would be safe;
- Require the abuser to pay child support, spousal support, and support for the care of a pet in your possession;
- Order the abuser not to have or use a deadly weapon or firearm and to surrender his/her firearms if the court finds that the abuser had or used a weapon during the domestic violence;
- Order the abuser to go to alcohol or drug treatment and/or a batterers intervention program at his/her expense;
- Require the abuser to pay you back for medical expenses, counseling, shelter stay, and repair or replacement of damaged property; and/or
- Require the abuser to pay for costs and fees in obtaining the protective order.1
A temporary (20-day) domestic violence protective order can:
- Order only the protections listed in numbers 1 through 10 above.2
An emergency (72-hour) domestic violence protective order can:
- Order only the protections listed in numbers 1 through 8 above.3
Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the specific facts of your case. It is important to let the judge know if you need additional protections that are not listed on the standard protective order form.
1 Alaska Statute § 18.66.100(c),(b)(1)
2 Alaska Statute § 18.66.110(a)
3 Alaska Statute § 18.66.110(b)
If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?
When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.
There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:
- The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
- One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
- If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.
However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.
You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.
Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.