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 Planning. 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.
Can I change or end an order from the court?
After the court issues the protective order, you can ask the court to change (modify) or end (dissolve) the order. The abuser (called the “respondent” in court) can also do this. You will need to fill out the required paperwork, which is available at the court clerk’s office.1
Only the judge has the power to modify the order. If you are trying to modify an ex parte protective order, the court will schedule a hearing on three days’ notice or on 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).2
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.
Generally, you cannot extend a long term protective order. You will need to fill out a new petition and begin the process again. To get another order, you should describe any new incidents of sexual assault or stalking that occurred since the previous protective order was granted or state the reason that you believe you continue to need the court’s protection.
1 See the AK Court System Instructions for Requesting a Protective Order Against Stalking or Sexual Assault
2 Alaska Statute § 18.65.860(a)
What if the abuser violates the order?
If you believe that the abuser has violated the protective order and you feel unsafe, you can immediately call 911 or your local police. Also, you can call your lawyer (if you have one), an advocate at a sexual assault organization, and/or let the court know about the violation by filing a violation petition in court. 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 if:
- you report the violation within 12 hours after it happened; and
- the police have “probable cause” (a reasonable belief) that the crime of violating the protective order likely occurred.2
To determine 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. However, you should know that there are some exceptions to these general rules, so an arrest might not be made in every case.
Note: 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 numbers in case you want to follow up on your case. Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made. This type of documentation may help you get the order modified (changed) in the future, if necessary.
1 Alaska Statute § 18.65.865(b)
2 Alaska Statute § 18.65.530(a)(2)
If I get a protection order, will it show up in an internet search?
According to federal law, which applies to all states, territories, and tribal lands, the courts are not supposed to make available publicly on the internet any information that would be likely to reveal your identity or location. This applies to all of these documents:
- the petition you file;
- the protection order, restraining order, or injunction that was issued by the court; or
- the registration of an order in a different state.1
1 18 USC § 2265(d)(3)
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 try to stay safe. For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Planning page. You will find a list of resources on our AK Places that Help tab on the top of this page. If you are the victim of sexual abuse, you may want to reach out to an organization for support. See the national organizations listed on our Rape/ Sexual Assault page. You can also read more about sexual assault and rape on our Sexual Assault / Rape page.
You may be able to reapply for a protective order if a new incident of stalking or sexual assault occurs after you are denied the order.
If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer. For basic information about appeals, go to our Filing an Appeal page. For legal referrals, go to AK Finding a Lawyer.