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 while the order is in effect. According to Hawaii’s laws, there will be a specific statement in the order that makes possession of a firearm (and ammunition) illegal as long as the order prohibits the abuser from contacting, threatening, or physically abusing anyone named in the order.1 However, it’s possible that the abuser can convince the judge that there is “good cause” to allow the abuser to keep his/her guns. If this happens, the judge will specifically include a statement in the order that says firearm possession is allowed.1
Firearm possession can be prohibited as part of an ex parte order if, from your allegations in the affidavit, the judge believes that:
- the abuser owns, has, or intends to get a firearm; and
- the firearm may be used to threaten, injure, or abuse you or someone else.1
When law enforcement serves the order upon the abuser, the police officer can take custody of any and all firearms and ammunition that:
- the officer sees (in “plain sight”);
- are discovered through a search to which the abuser consents; and
- the abuser voluntarily gives to the police officer.1
If the abuser is the registered owner of a firearm but refuses to give it to the police, s/he will be guilty of a misdemeanor. In addition, when a police officer is unable to locate the firearms and ammunition, the police officer is supposed to apply to the court for a search warrant to get permission to take (seize) the firearms and ammunition.1
You can find more information about gun laws by:
- going to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
- reading 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.
1 HRS § 134-7(f)
What should I do when I leave the courthouse?
These are some things you may want to consider after you have been granted an order for protection. 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 order of protection as soon as possible.
- Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
- Leave copies of the order at your workplace, 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 (if permitted by law) and your phone number.
- If you are concerned about your safety when leaving the courthouse, you may want to notify a court officer to see if s/he may walk you to your car.
You may also wish to make a safety plan. 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 orders for protection, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. For tips on staying safe, go to our Safety Tips page.
I was not granted an order for protection. What are my options?
Orders for protection and TROs are generally not granted for two reasons: 1) either your case does not meet the legal requirements; or 2) your petition was not detailed enough. If your petition is not detailed enough, there may not be enough evidence for the judge to grant you the TRO. An advocate or lawyer can help you fill out the petition to prevent this from happening.
If you were not granted an order for protection because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify as a “family or household member,” you may be able to seek protection through an injunction against harassment from the district court. Please see our Injunctions Against Harassment (District Court) page for more information. You may also be able to reapply for an order for protection if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.
If you are not granted an order for 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 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 Tips page. You will find a list of Hawaii resources on our Places that Help page.
If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you may need the help of a lawyer. See our Filing an Appeal page for general information on appeals.
Note: If the court denies a petition for a temporary, final, or extended order, the respondent can ask the judge to order that the petition, which has the allegations of abuse, not be available to the public.1
1 HRS §§ 586-4(g); 586-5.5(c)
What can I do if the abuser violates the order?
To enforce a temporary restraining order or order for protection, you are the one who would have to report the violations to the police or the court. Be sure to write down the date, time, location, and what happens when your order is violated.
Remember, even if you think it is a minor violation, you can call the police. It can be a misdemeanor crime and contempt of court if the abuser knowingly violates the order in any way. A judge can punish someone for being in contempt of court. In addition, the police can arrest him/her for the crime of violating the order.1 A judge may order the abuser to undergo domestic violence intervention services, (s)he may be jailed and/or fined.
When you call the police, they will generally send an officer out to make a report. Show the police your TRO or order for protection. If the police witnessed the violation or if the abuser is still in the area, the police will most likely make an arrest. If the abuser violated the order by injuring you, damaging property, etc., you can show the police any physical injuries or property damage (and you can photograph it for use later on). If the abuser called you in violation of the order, you may want to keep a log of the date and time of the call, what s/he said, save any voicemails or text messages, and write down anything else that you think is important.
The police will make a report, whether or not the abuser is arrested. 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.
If no arrest was made, and/or you are uncertain of an arrest, or you have questions about what to expect after an arrest was made, you can call the Victim/Witness Assistance Division of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office at one of the following numbers:
- O`ahu (the city and county of Honolulu)- (808) 768-7400 (this is the general prosecutor’s office number)
- Maui - (808) 270-7695 2
- Hawai`i - Kona: (808) 322-2552; Hilo: (808) 934-3306
- Kaua`i - (808) 241-1888 3
How do I change or extend my order for protection?
Changing your order
You can ask the court to modify (change) the terms of an existing family court order for protection by filing a petition in court. The abuser must be notified and a hearing may be held to determine if the modification(s) you requested should be made. At the hearing (and even in your petition), you must show that substantial changes have taken place since the order was issued or since the last modification was made in order for the judge to grant a new modification.1
Extending your order
Before your order expires, you can apply to the court to have your order for protection extended. You will have to go back to the family court clerk and fill out a petition similar to the one you completed for the original order. The judge will hold a hearing to determine whether the protective order should be extended and for how long. The law says it can be extended for a “reasonable period of time.” Additionally, if the order prohibits the respondent from contacting, threatening, or physically abusing a minor, it can be extended until after the minor turns 18. In making this decision, the judge will consider evidence of abuse and threats of abuse that happened before you got your temporary restraining order (TRO) and whether there is “good cause” (a good reason) to extend the order for protection. The judge will decide whether to extend the order, and for how long.2
Extended orders for protection can include all of the protections in your original order and can add additional protections that the judge believes is necessary to prevent domestic abuse. For example, the extended order can set up temporary custody and visitation rights, and/or order either or both parties to participate in domestic violence intervention services.2
1 HRS § 586-9
2 HRS § 586-5.5(b)
Will my order still be valid if I move?
If you move within Hawaii, your order will still be valid. It may be a good idea to contact your local law enforcement to let them know about the order for protection and that you have moved to a new area. You may also want to call the court where you originally received the order to tell them your new address so that they can contact you if necessary. However, if you want your new address to be kept confidential, be sure to ask the clerk how to ensure that the abuser cannot access it from the court file.
Additionally, the 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 regulations when enforcing out-of-state protection orders. You may find out about your new state’s policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor in your area or an attorney. For information on lawyers or domestic violence programs in the area, please see our Places that Help page and select the new state to which you will be moving.
If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order between states.
Note: For information on enforcing a military protective 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 18 USC § 2265(a)
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)