Legal Information: Alabama

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
September 1, 2023

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection from abuse order, there maybe 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 Alabama have the power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order; 
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about Alabama’s specific gun-related laws; and 
  • third, you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal law 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?

Once you leave the courthouse, here is a list of things you might want to do:

  • Make several copies of the protection from abuse order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • 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.
  • Take steps to make a safety plan, which could include changing your locks and your phone number.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order.  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 batterers obey protective orders, but some do not.  It is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  Go to our Safety Planning page for more information.  Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.  You can find local domestic violence organizations on our AL State and Local Programs page.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

The PFA order can be violated if the abuser does not follow every provision in the order. If you believe the order has been violated, you can call the police immediately. Even if you think it is a minor violation, it could be a class A misdemeanor crime1 or civil contempt of court. If you call the police, it is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number(s) in case you want to follow up on your case.

For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.

1 Ala. Code § 13A-6-142(a)

 

How do I change my PFA order?

If you want to change (modify) your protection from abuse order, you would fill out the same form as you did during your original application, entitled “Petition for Protection from Abuse.” There is a space on page two to check off that you are requesting a “change in a current protection order.”1 You cannot be charged a fee to file a modification petition.2 

1 See Petition for Protection from Abuse on the Alabama Courts website
2 Ala. Code § 30-5-5(g)(1)

What happens if I move?

Your Alabama PFA order is automatically good throughout Alabama and in all U.S. states and territories. The federal law provides what is called “full faith and credit,” which means that once you have a qualifying criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.  Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders - in some states, you need to register the order.  You can find out about your state’s policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor in your area.

You may also read more about the rules for your state on the Enforcing an Alabama Protection From Abuse Order in Another State page.

Note: PFAs may be enforceable on military bases, and military protective orders may be enforceable off base.  Please check with your local police department, court clerk, and/or domestic violence advocate for more details.  Please see our Military Protective Orders page for more information.

 

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 PFA. What are my options?

If you are not granted a PFA 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 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 Planning page. You will find a list of resources on our AL Advocates and Shelters page.

You may also be able to reapply for PFA order if a new incident of domestic abuse 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.  You can find some basic information on appeals on our File an Appeal page.  You can find legal referrals, free and paid, on our AL Finding a Lawyer page.

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