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Legal Information: Arkansas

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of January 3, 2024

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 Arkansas 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 ideas for things that you may want to do when leaving court – you will have to decide which ones work for you:

  • Make several copies of the protective 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.
  • One week after court, call your local law enforcement offices to make sure they have received copies of the protective order. If they have not, you may want to ask if you can deliver a copy to them.
  • Take steps to safety plan, including possibly 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. For more information please visit the Safety Planning page. Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.

I was not granted an order of protection. What can I do?

If you are not granted an order of protection, there are still some things you can do to try to stay safe.  It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence programs in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you come up with a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. You will find a list on our AR Advocates and Shelters page.

You may also be able to reapply for an order of protection if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

If the order is violated, you can call the police or sheriff department even if you think it is a minor violation. You can also file a motion for contempt notifying the judge of the violation and requesting that the judge enforce the order. It can be a crime and contempt of court if the abuser knowingly violates a provision in the order in any way. A judge can punish someone for being in contempt of court.

Violating an order can be a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.1 However, if the violation of the order is within five years of a previous conviction for violating an order of protection and the order of protection was issued after a hearing (not an ex parte order), it is a Class D felony. A Class D felony is punishable by up to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.2

A law enforcement officer can arrest someone for violating an order of protection if the officer has probable cause to believe that the terms of the order of protection were violated, even if the violation did not take place in the presence of the law enforcement officer.3

If the police are not involved or do not arrest him/her or file a criminal complaint against him/her, you may still have the right to go to the District Court and take out a criminal complaint against him/her. It is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case.

Note: At trial, if the abuser can prove that any of the following are true, s/he can be found “not guilty” for violating the order:

  1. you and the abuser got back together before the violation of the order of protection; or
  2. you invited the abuser to come to your home or workplace and any of the following are true:
  • you knew that the abuser’s presence at your home or workplace would be in violation of the order of protection;
  • you arranged/invited the abuser to meet at a location or you took affirmative steps to communicate with the abuser with the promise that you would not report him/her to law enforcement for violating the order of protection; or
  • you visited the abuser’s home or workplace without any threat, duress, or coercion on the part of the abuser.4

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

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-207(b)(1)
2 Ark. Code §§ 9-15-207(b)(2); 5-53-134(b)(2); 5-4-401(a)(5); 5-4-201(a)(2)
3 Ark. Code § 5-53-134(c)(1)
3 Ark. Code § 5-53-134(d)

How do I change, extend, or cancel the order?

In order to renew the order, you will have to go back to court and prove that the threat of domestic abuse still exists.1 If you would like to cancel the order or change it in some way, you will have to go back to court and have a hearing in front of the judge, where you may need to explain why you want a to cancel or change the order.2

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-205(b)
2 Ark. Code § 9-15-209

What happens if I move?

If you move within Arkansas or to another state, your order will still be valid and enforceable.  Federal law provides what is called “full faith and credit,” which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.1

Different states may have different rules for enforcing out-of-state restraining orders.  If you are moving out of state, you may want to call a domestic violence program in the state where you are going to find out if there are any special regulations regarding out-of-state orders.

Please see our AR Advocates and Shelters page to find a domestic violence program.  You may also want to call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) to find out this information.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protection 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 See 18 U.S.C. § 2265

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)