If I don’t have a hard copy of my out-of-state order, how can law enforcement enforce it?
To enforce an out-of-state order, law enforcement typically may rely on the National Crime Information Center Protection Order File (NCIC-POF). The NCIC-POF is a nationwide, electronic database that contains information about orders of protection that were issued in each state and territory in the U.S. The Protection Order File (POF) contains court orders that are issued to prevent acts of domestic violence, or to prevent someone from stalking, intimidating, or harassing another person. It contains orders issued by both civil and criminal state courts. The types of protection orders issued and the information contained in them vary from state to state.
There is no way for the general public to access the NCIC-POF. That means you cannot confirm a protection order is in the registry or add a protection order to the registry without the help of a government agency that has access to it.
Typically, the state police or criminal justice agency in the state has the responsibility of reporting protection orders to NCIC. However, in some cases, the courts have taken on that role and they manage the protection order reporting process.1 NCIC–POF is used by law enforcement agencies when they need to verify and enforce an out-of-state protection order. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.
However, not all states routinely enter protection orders into the NCIC. Instead, some states may enter the orders only in their own state protection order registry, which would not be accessible to law enforcement in other states. According to a 2016 report by the National Center for State Courts, more than 700,000 protection orders that were registered in state protection order databases were not registered in the federal NCIC Protection Order File.2 This means that if a law enforcement officer is trying to enforce a protection order from another state that is missing from the NCIC, the victim would likely need to show the officer a hard copy of the order to get it immediately enforced. If you no longer have a copy of your original order, you may want to contact the court that issued the order to ask them how you can get another copy sent to you.
1 See State Progress in Record Reporting for Firearm-Related Background Checks: Protection Order Submissions, prepared by the National Center for State Courts, April 2016
How do I register my protective order in Georgia?
Anyone may register a foreign (out-of-state) protection order in Georgia. To register a foreign protection order, you have to present a certified copy of the order to the local Superior Court. A certified copy will usually be signed and initialed by the clerk of the court that issued the order, and will usually have some kind of stamp or raised seal on it. The clerk will give you a receipt that shows the order has been received. There will be no charge for filing your foreign protection order.1 The clerk will then transmit the information to where it will be entered in NCIC.2
If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Georgia for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area on our GA Advocates and Shelters page.
1 O.C.G.A. § 19-13-54(b)
2 O.C.G.A. § 19-13-53
Do I have to register my protection order in Georgia in order to get it enforced?
Neither federal law nor Georgia state law1 requires that you register your protection order in order to get it enforced. However, if your order is not entered into the registry, it may be more difficult for a Georgia law enforcement official to determine whether your order is valid and so it could take longer to get your order enforced.
1 O.C.G.A. § 19-13-53(e)
Will the abuser be notified if I register my protective order?
Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1 However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.
However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to. It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living. We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Safety Planning page. You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our GA Advocates and Shelters page.
1 18 USC § 2265(d)
Does it cost anything to register my protective order?
There is no fee for registering your protective order in Georgia.1
1 O.C.G.A. § 19-13-54(b)