Can the abuser have a gun?
Once you get a protective 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 Alaska 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 courtroom?
These are some things you may want to consider after you have been granted a protective order. Depending on what you think is safest in your situation, you may do any or all of the following:
- Review the order before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk how to correct the order before you leave.
- Make several copies of the protective order as soon as possible.
- Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
- You might want to inform your employer, clergy, family members, and/or your closest friends that you have a protective order in effect so that they can be aware of the restrictions on the abuser.
- 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 along with a photo of the abuser.
- 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 and your phone number.
Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order. Many abusers 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 about Safety Tips. Advocates at local resource centers can help you design a safety plan and can provide other forms of support. You can find an advocate in your area on the AK Advocates and Shelters page.
I was not granted a protective order. What are my options?
If you are not granted a protective 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 organizations in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Tips page. You will find a list of state resources on our AK Advocates and Shelters page.
You may be able to reapply for a protective order if a new incident of domestic violence occurs after you are denied the order.
If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to someone at a domestic violence organization or a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer.
What if the abuser violates the order?
If you believe that the abuser has violated the protective order, you can immediately call 911. Also, you can call your attorney if you have one or an advocate or lawyer at a domestic violence organization. You can also let the court know about the violation. The violation of an order can be a misdemeanor crime, which can be punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.1
According to Alaska law the police are supposed to make an arrest (although there are exceptions) if:
- you report the violation within 12 hours after it happened; and
- the police have “probable cause” (a reasonable belief/likelihood) to believe the crime occurred.2
In figuring out if there is probable cause, officers may talk to you, the abuser, and any other witnesses, examine the place where the violation happened, and consider other relevant factors.
The violation does not have to occur while an officer is there for the arrest to be made.3 If you report the incident after the first 12 hours, an arrest without a warrant can still be made if there is probable cause to believe that a crime occurred, however it is not mandatory.
Note: Aside from dealing with a violation, if a police officer receives complaints of any incidents of domestic violence from more than one person arising from the same incident, the police are supposed to arrest only the “primary aggressor” (the more violent person), not the victim trying to defend herself.4 The law prohibits a police officer from threatening to arrest everyone who is present at the domestic violence incident.5 A police officer who does not make an arrest after a domestic violence incident, or who arrests more than one person from a single incident, must put in writing the reasons for her/his actions.6
When the police arrive, it is generally a good idea to write down the name of the officer(s) that are there and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case. Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made. If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it may help you have the order extended or modified (changed) in the future.
1 Alaska Statute § 18.66.130(b)
2 Alaska Statute § 18.65.530(a)(2)
3 Alaska Statute § 18.65.530(a)
4 Alaska Statute § 18.65.530(b)
5 Alaska Statute § 18.65.530(d)
6 Alaska Statute § 18.65.530(e)
Can I modify and/or extend my protective order?
Modifications: After the court has granted either the ex parte temporary protective order or long term protective order, if you want to change part of the order, you can file your request with the court.
Only the judge has the power to modify the order. If you are trying to modify an ex parte temporary protective order, the court will schedule a hearing with three days’ notice or less. If you are trying to modify a long term order, the court will schedule a hearing within 20 days after the date the request is made if the court finds that the request to modify the order has merit(value).1
You and the abuser cannot change the order simply by agreeing outside of the legal process. Even if both of you agree to change part of the order, you must still go through the legal system for the change to be enforceable. It is not valid unless it is written in a court order. Allowing the abuser to ignore one part of the order could encourage violations of other parts. For more information, see the AK State Court System’s website.
Extensions: You cannot extend the entire long term protective order. You need to fill out a new petition and begin the process again. To get an additional order, you should describe if a new domestic violence incident occurred during the previous protective order or state the reason that you believe you continue to need the court’s protection.2
Most parts of a long term protective orders expire after one year. However, the part (“provision”) that prohibits the respondent from threatening to commit or committing domestic violence is in effect indefinitely (forever), unless a judge rules otherwise.
1 Alaska Statute § 18.66.120(a)(1) & (2)
2 Adapted from the AK Court System “How to Represent Yourself in Alaska’s Domestic Violence Protective Order Process”