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Legal Information: Louisiana

Louisiana Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

A restraining order or protective order is a legal order issued by a state court which requires one person to stop harming another. In Louisiana, there are protective orders for domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking.

Protective Orders (for Domestic Abuse)

A protective order is a civil order that provides protection from a family or household member or a dating partner.

Basic information

What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Louisiana?

This section defines domestic violence/abuse for the purposes of getting a protective order.  "Domestic abuse" includes, but is not limited to, one or more of the following acts between "family members" or "household members" or "dating partners":

  1. physical abuse;
  2. sexual abuse;
  3. stalking, cyberstalking or any other offense (physical or non-physical) in the Criminal Code of Louisiana (except for negligent injury and defamation) - you can read the Criminal Code of Louisiana on the LA Legislature website; and
  4. elder abuse, which is defined as "abuse or neglect" of an adult committed by an adult child or adult grandchild.1

1 LA R.S. 46:2132(4)

What types of protective orders are there? How long do they last?

There are three types of protective orders:

Emergency Temporary Restraining Orders: If you are in need of emergency protection outside of regular court hours, the court may grant you an emergency temporary restraining order if there is an "immediate and present danger of abuse." The judge must consider any and all past history of abuse, or threats of abuse, in determining whether or not there is an immediate and present danger of abuse. (There is no requirement that the abuse itself be recent, immediate, or present.)  If you are issued this order, it will only be good until the close of the next business day that the court is open. For the protection to remain in effect, you must go to court before the close of the next business day to request a temporary restraining order and/or a protective order.1

Temporary Restraining Orders: When you go to court to file for a long-term protective order, you can also ask for a temporary restraining order (TRO). The court may issue you a TRO during an ex parte hearing without the abuser present if there is an "immediate and present danger of abuse." The judge must consider any and all past history of abuse, or threats of abuse, in determining whether or not there is an immediate and present danger of abuse. (There is no requirement that the abuse itself be recent, immediate, or present.)  As soon as a TRO is issued, the abuser will be notified that you have an order against him/her. The court will give you a date (usually within 21 days) for a full court hearing where you and the abuser each have a chance to be present and tell your sides of the story.2

Long-term Protective Orders: A long-term protective order can be issued only after a court hearing where you and the abuser both have the opportunity to tell your sides of the story to a judge. You must attend that hearing.  If you do not go to the hearing, your TRO may expire and you will have to start the process over.  A long-term order will last for up to 18 months, unless otherwise stated.3  However, the part of the order that says the abuser should not "abuse, harass, or interfere with the petitioner or his/her employment; should not go near the residence or place of employment of the petitioner, the minor children, or any person on whose behalf a the petition was filed" can last for an indefinite (unlimited) period of time.4  Orders may also be extended.  See How do I change, extend, or cancel my protective order?

1 LA R.S. 46:2135(A),(F)
2 LA R.S. 46:2135(A)
3 LA R.S. 46:2136(F)(1)
4 LA R.S. 46:2136(F)(2)(a); see also LA R.S. 46:2135(A)(1)

What protections can I get in a protective order?

In a temporary restraining order, a judge may order the abuser to:

  • stop threatening, harassing, or hurting you;
  • not contact or interfere with you or your children (and give you temporary custody);
  • stay away from your and your children’s residence, places of employment, schools, etc.;
  • prevent you and the abuser from giving away, selling, or destroying any mutually-owned property;
  • move out of the residence (if you live together);
    • Note: If the abuser solely owns or leases the house or apartment, s/he may not be asked to move out unless the abuser has a legal duty to support you or your children, such as a spouse or parent may;
  • return your personal property to you; and
  • give you possession of your pet or order the abuser to stop abusing your pet.1

In a long-term protective order (after a full hearing), a judge may:

  • order all of the relief listed above; and
  • include the following additional terms:
    • establish temporary visitation;
    • order the abuser to pay temporary child support if you have children with the abuser;
    • order the abuser to pay temporary spousal support if you are married to the abuser;
    • give you possession of a shared home, even if the abuser owns it, if you are the abuser’s spouse or have custody of your and the abuser’s minor children;
    • order either a medical or mental health evaluation (or both) of the abuser to be conducted by an independent court-appointed evaluator who qualifies as an expert in the field of domestic abuse and who has no family, financial, or prior medical or mental health relationship with the abuser or his/her attorney of record; and
    • order the abuser to attend counseling.2

In addition, the law says that the abuser must ("shall") pay for all of your court costs, attorney fees, costs of enforcing or modifying the order, costs of appeals, evaluation fees, and expert witness fees based on filing or defending any proceeding concerning a domestic abuse protection order. The abuser must also pay for all costs of medical and psychological care for you (the abused adult), or for any of your children when the care is needed due to the domestic violence.3

Note: Louisiana law prohibits the defendant (abuser) from possessing a firearm or carrying a concealed weapon while the long-term protective order is in effect if:

  • the order includes a finding that the defendant represents a believable (credible) threat to the physical safety of a family member, household member, or dating partner; and
  • the order includes a notice to the defendant about this law and about the federal firearm law.4

1 LA R.S. § 46:2135
2 LA R.S. § 46:2136
3 LA R.S. § 46:2136.1
4 LA R.S. § 46:2136.3

In which parish can I file for a protective order?

You can file for a protective order in the parish where the marital home is located (or the home you shared with the abuser if you are unmarried), where you live, where the abuser lives, where the abuse occurred, or where divorce or annulment proceedings could be filed.1

1 LA R.S. 46:2133(B)

Who can get a protective order

Who can get a protective order?

In Louisiana, you can file for a protective order against the abuser if s/he is:

  • a family member, which includes your:
    • spouse or former spouse;
    • child, step-child, foster child, or grandchild;
    • parent, step-parent, foster parent or grandparents;
  • a household member, which means that you and the abuser:
    • are or were in a sexual or intimate relationship, and
    • are or were living in the same home;1 or
  • a dating partner, which is defined as someone with whom you are or were involved in a sexual or intimate relationship. It doesn't matter if you ever lived together.2

1 LA R. S. 46: 2132(4)
2 LA R. S. 46: 2151(B)

Can I get a protective order against a same-sex partner?

In Louisiana, you may apply for a protective order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who can get a protective order?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic abuse, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Louisiana?

You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

Can I get a protective order if I'm a minor?

Yes.  However, as a minor (a person under the age of 18), you will need a parent, an adult household member or a district attorney to file for the protective order on your behalf.1

For the definition of a family or household member, see Who can get a protective order?

1 LA R.S. 46: 2133(D)

Can I keep my insurance coverage even though my abusive spouse was the policyholder?

Probably. If you are a victim of domestic abuse and you are covered under your spouse's policy, you may be able to convert that insurance coverage to your own policy for you and your dependent children upon the judgment of divorce or judgment of legal separation from the abusive spouse. The converted policy is supposed to provide the same benefits, including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments, as the policy from which coverage is being converted.1

In order to convert the coverage to your own individual policy, you should:

  • Notify the health insurance company that you want to convert your spouse's policy into your own individual policy within 30 days of receiving the notice of termination; AND
  • Provide the health insurance company with a copy of the divorce decree or separation order.1

1 LA R.S. 22:1078(C)

Are there fees to get a protective order? Do I need a lawyer?

Nothing. There are no filing fees and court costs for this process.1  For other questions about filing, you can find contact information for courthouses on the LA Courthouse Locations page.

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for a protective order, it may be to your advantage to seek legal counsel, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find contact information for lawyers on our LA Finding a Lawyer page. 

1 LA R.S. 46:2134(F)

Steps for obtaining a protective order

Step 1: Fill out the necessary forms and file them in court.

To start your case, you will need to fill out the necessary forms.  You may find it helpful to get the forms first and fill them out at home or with an advocate from a local domestic violence organization. You will find links to forms online on the LA Download Court Forms page.

On the forms, you are the "petitioner" and your abuser is the "defendant."  Read the petition carefully and ask questions of the court clerk if you don’t understand something.  Write about the most recent incidents of violence, using descriptive language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, choking, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Be specific. Include details and dates, if possible.

A domestic violence organization may be able to provide you with help or support as you fill out the forms. See LA Advocates and Shelters for the location of an organization near you.

Note: Do not sign the application until you have shown it to a clerk. The form may need to be notarized or signed in the presence of court personnel, which will likely require you to have photo identification.

Step 2: A judge will review your petition and may issue a TRO.

After you finish filing your paperwork, the clerk will forward it to a judge. The judge may wish to ask you questions as s/he reviews your petition. The judge will decide whether or not to issue the temporary restraining order (TRO) and will set a court date for a full hearing for a protective order. The court may issue you a TRO during an ex parte hearing without the abuser present if there is an "immediate and present danger of abuse." The judge must consider any and all past history of abuse, or threats of abuse, in determining whether or not there is an immediate and present danger of abuse. (There is no requirement that the abuse itself be recent, immediate, or present.)1 You will be given a copy of your petition, along with papers that state the time and date of your hearing for a long-term protective order.

By the end of the next business day, the clerk will get the order entered into the Louisiana Protective Order Registry and send a copy of it to the chief law enforcement officer of the parish where you live.2

1 LA R.S. 46:2135(A)
2 LA R.S. 46:2135(H)

Step 3: Service of process

The clerk will give a copy of the petition and the TRO to the sheriff's office to serve the abuser. Remember, your protective order is NOT valid until the abuser has been served with it. The abuser must be notified and have the opportunity to be present in court on the date and time of the hearing and informed of any temporary or emergency orders that a judge has granted you.

Usually the court will send copies of the order and notice of hearing to the police or sheriff, but in some areas you may have to bring the papers to the sheriff or police yourself. You may want to ask the court clerk or a domestic violence organization for more information about serving the abuser. By the end of the next business day, the clerk will also get the order entered into the Louisiana Protective Order Registry and send a copy of it to the chief law enforcement officer of the parish where you live.1

Do not try and serve the abuser in person with the papers yourself.

1 LA R.S. 46:2136(H)

Step 4: The full court hearing

You must go to this hearing if you want to get a final protective order. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire and you will have to start the process over. If you do not show up at the hearing it may possibly be harder for you to be granted an order in the future.  If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you a long-term protective order, or the judge may order a new hearing date.  If you cannot go to the hearing at the scheduled time, you may call the judge's office to ask that your case be "continued," but the judge may deny your request.

You may wish to hire a lawyer to help with your case, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If you show up to court and the abuser has a lawyer and you do not, you may ask the judge for a "continuance" to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself.  You can also represent yourself. See the Preparing Your Case section for information on representing yourself. 

After the hearing

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 question on this page to see if judges in Louisiana 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?

Review the protective order before you leave the courthouse.  If something is wrong or missing, you might be able to ask the clerk how to get it corrected.  Here are some things that you may want to do when leaving the courthouse:

  • Keep a copy of the protective 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.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, you may want to take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number if permitted by law.
  • Be aware of your safety while leaving the courthouse.  If you are concerned that the abuser may try to approach you, contact a court officer to see if you can be accompanied to your car.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the protective 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 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.  View our Safety Tips page for some suggestions.  Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.  For a list of domestic violence organizations, see our LA Advocates and Shelters page.

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 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 Louisiana resources on our LA Advocates and Shelters page.

If you were not granted a protective order because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify as a "family or household member” or "dating partner" you may be able to seek protection through a sexual assault protective order or a protective order for stalking.

You may also be able to reapply for a protective 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. See our Filing Appeals page for basic information on appeals.

What is the Louisiana Protective Order Registry?

The Louisiana Protective Order Registry (LPOR) was set up by the Supreme Court of Louisiana for the purpose of enhancing court-ordered protections for victims of domestic abuse, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault (and their children), and to aid law enforcement, prosecutors, and the courts in handling cases involving intimate partner violence. The LPOR is a database of court orders, including:

  • temporary restraining orders;
  • long-term protective orders;
  • preliminary injunctions;
  • permanent injunctions;
  • court-approved consent agreements; and
  • criminal stay away orders such as peace bonds, bail restrictions, sentencing orders, or probation conditions.1

Police and other law enforcement agencies anywhere in the state can find out about an order by checking a computerized registry of orders.1

1 LA R.S. 46:2136.2

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Through the Police or Sheriff (Criminal): If the abuser violates the protective order, you can call 911 immediately. The law says that if a law enforcement officer has reason to believe that a family or household member or dating partner has been abused in violation of a temporary or final restraining order/protective order, the officer is supposed to immediately arrest the abuser.1 It is also considered a violation of protective order if the abuser has a firearm in his/her possession or if s/he is carrying a concealed weapon in violation of the law that prohibits firearm possession when certain long-term orders are in effect.2

Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made. (If no arrest is made, you may still be able to file a criminal complaint against the abuser.) If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it may help you have the order extended or modified. 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 the abuser is arrested, and found guilty of a violation, s/he can be forced to pay a fine and/or go to jail. The penalties can vary, depending on whether or not it is his/her first conviction for violation of a protective order or not. The penalty increases for a second (or third, fourth, etc.) conviction as well as the penalty can be more severe if the violation involves battery or any crime of violence.3 To read about the penalties, go to our Selected Louisiana Statutes page.

Even if the police do not arrest at the scene, law enforcement officers are supposed to at least issue a summons to the abuser if there is probable cause that the order was violated.4

Through the Civil Court System (Civil): You may file for civil contempt for a violation of the order. The abuser can be held in "civil contempt" if s/he does anything that your protective order orders him/her not to do.5

1 LA R.S. 46:2140(A)
2 LA R.S. 14:79(A)(4)
3 LA R.S. 14:79B)
4 LA R.S. 14:79(E)
5 See, for example, LA ST Ch.C. Art. 1571

How do I change or extend my protective order?

If you wish to change the terms of the order, a "Request to Modify" can be filed. A judge can modify a protective order to exclude any item included in the prior order, or to include any item that could have been included in the prior order.1

If you want to extend your protective order, you must apply for an extension (a motion to modify the order) before your original order expires. A judge can extend an order in the judge's discretion. The abuser may file to modify the indefinite term of the protective over (if your order has an indefinite term) - if so, you should be notified of this hearing.2

1 LA R.S. 46:2136(D)(1)
2 LA R.S. 46:2136(F)(1),(2)(c)

What happens if I move?

If you move within Louisiana, your order will still be valid and good.  It is a good idea to call the clerk to change your address.  Read more about this on our Moving with a Protective Order page.

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.  If you are moving to a new state, you may want to call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order in another state.

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.

Protective Orders (for Stalking)

A victim of stalking or cyberstalking can get a protective order against an acquaintance, stranger, or anyone who is committing stalking/cyberstalking.

Who can get a protective order due to stalking?

Louisiana state law allows a victim of stalking or cyberstalking to apply for a protective order even if the person is not a family or household member or dating partner.  Therefore, if you are being stalked by an acquaintance, a co-worker, or even someone with whom who you have no relationship, you may still be eligible for a protective order.1

Note: The person does not have to be arrested for stalking or cyperstalking.  As long as you can prove that the person committed acts that would come under the criminal definitions of stalking or cyberstalking, you may qualify.  (To read the exact definitions of each crime, click on the hyperlinked term in the prior sentence.)

1 LA R.S. 46:2173

How do I apply for a protective order due to stalking?

A protective order for stalking victims can be filed in the civil district court.  To find a courthouse near you, please go to our LA Courthouse Locations page.   For more information on protective orders for victims of stalking, you can read the information on our Protective Orders (for Domestic Abuse) page since both pages refer to the same protective orders.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Through the Police or Sheriff (Criminal): If the abuser violates the protective order, you can call 911 immediately. The law says that if a law enforcement officer has reason to believe that a family or household member or dating partner has been abused in violation of a temporary or final restraining order/protective order, the officer is supposed to immediately arrest the abuser.1 It is also considered a violation of protective order if the abuser has a firearm in his/her possession or if s/he is carrying a concealed weapon in violation of the law that prohibits firearm possession when certain long-term orders are in effect.2

Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made. (If no arrest is made, you may still be able to file a criminal complaint against the abuser.) If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it may help you have the order extended or modified. 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 the abuser is arrested, and found guilty of a violation, s/he can be forced to pay a fine and/or go to jail. The penalties can vary, depending on whether or not it is his/her first conviction for violation of a protective order or not. The penalty increases for a second (or third, fourth, etc.) conviction as well as the penalty can be more severe if the violation involves battery or any crime of violence.3 To read about the penalties, go to our Selected Louisiana Statutes page.

Even if the police do not arrest at the scene, law enforcement officers are supposed to at least issue a summons to the abuser if there is probable cause that the order was violated.4

Through the Civil Court System (Civil): You may file for civil contempt for a violation of the order. The abuser can be held in "civil contempt" if s/he does anything that your protective order orders him/her not to do.5

1 LA R.S. 46:2140(A)
2 LA R.S. 14:79(A)(4)
3 LA R.S. 14:79B)
4 LA R.S. 14:79(E)
5 See, for example, LA ST Ch.C. Art. 1571

Sexual Assault Protective Orders

A person is eligible for a sexual assault protective order if s/he is the victim of sexual assault. Sexual assault includes any nonconsensual sexual contact.

Basic info and definitions

What is a sexual assault protective order?

Similar to a protective order for domestic abuse, a sexual assault protective order is a court order that can protect you from an abuser if you are the victim of nonconsensual sexual contact.1 Unlike the protective order for domestic abuse, you do not need to have a specific relationship with the abuser to get a sexual assault protective order.2

1 LA R.S. § 46:2184
2 LA R.S. § 46:2183(A)

What is the legal definition of nonconsensual sexual contact?

To be eligible for a sexual assault protective order, you must be the victim of sexual assault, which is defined as any act of nonconsensual sexual contact. “Nonconsensual sexual contact” includes the crime of "obscenity" or any sex offense listed in LA R.S. 15:541(subsection 24).1 Some examples of the sex offenses listed in the law include: rape, sexual battery, and photographing or videotaping someone without his/her consent for the purpose of sexual arousal.2 An example of the crime of “obscenity” includes exposure of genitals or breasts in a public place with the intent of arousing sexual desire.3Note: Although the law that defines “sexual offenses” lists very specific crimes, as explained above, the law also uses the phrase “including, but not limited to” when listing the crimes.1 Therefore, it is possible that other acts that are not one of the listed crimes may also be considered nonconsensual sexual contact.

1 LA R.S. § 46:2184
2 LA R.S. § 15:541(24)
3 LA R.S. § 14:106(1)

What types of sexual assault protective orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of sexual assault protective orders, ex parte temporary restraining orders and final sexual assault protective orders.

The judge may issue you an ex parte temporary restraining order without the abuser present if there is “good cause” to do so. Proving that you are the victim of sexual assault is considered to be “good cause” to grant this ex parte order.1 If the ex parte temporary order is issued, the abuser will be notified that you have an order against him/her and the court will give you a date, usually within 21 days, for a full court hearing (referred to as “the hearing on the rule to show cause") where you and the abuser each have a chance to be present and tell your sides of the story.2 If the judge does not grant you an ex parte temporary order, the judge can still set the matter down for a hearing (within 10 days from when the petition is served upon the abuser) where you can prove that the final order should be granted.3

1 LA R.S. § 46:2183(B)
2 LA R.S. § 46:2135(B)
3 LA R.S. § 46:2135(D)

Where can I file for a sexual assault protective order?

You can file for a sexual assault protective order in any court that hears family or juvenile matters. However, it must be filed in the parish:

  • where you live;
  • where the abuser lives; or
  • where the sexual assault occurred.1

1 LA R.S. § 46:2185

What protections can I get in a sexual assault protective order?

The law says that a victim of sexual assault can get all of the same protections in his/her protective order as a victim of domestic violence can get.1 We explain the protections available in a domestic violence protective order here, although some of them may not apply.

In a temporary restraining order, a judge may order the abuser to:

  • Stop threatening, harassing, or hurting you;
  • Not contact or interfere with you or your children (and give you temporary custody);
  • Stay away from your residence, place of employment, school, etc.;
  • Prevent you and the abuser from giving away, selling, or destroying any mutually-owned property;
  • Move out of the residence (if you live together);
    • Note: If the abuser solely owns or leases the house or apartment, s/he may not be asked to move out;
  • Return your personal property to you; and/or
  • Give you possession of your pet or order the abuser to stop abusing your pet.

In a long-term protective order (after a full hearing), a judge may:

  • Order all of the relief listed above;
  • Establish temporary visitation;
  • Award you temporary support;
  • Order an additional medical opinion regarding a medical evaluation of the abuser (or of you) to be conducted by an independent court-appointed evaluator who qualifies as an expert in the field of domestic abuse; and
  • Order the abuser to attend counseling.2

In addition, the law says that the abuser must ("shall") pay for all of your court costs, attorney fees, costs of enforcing or modifying the order, costs of appeals, evaluation fees, and expert witness fees based on filing or defending any proceeding concerning a domestic abuse protection order. The abuser must also pay for all costs of medical and psychological care for you (the abused adult), or for any of your children when the care is needed due to the domestic violence.3

Note: Louisiana law prohibits the defendant (abuser) from possessing a firearm while the long-term protective order is in effect if the order includes a finding that the defendant represents a credible (believable) threat to the petitioner's physical safety and the order includes a notice to the defendant about this law and the federal firearm law.4

1 LA R.S. § 46:2183(A)
2 LA R.S. §§ 46:2135; 46:2136
3 LA R.S. § 46:2136.1
4 LA R.S. § 46:2136.3

Getting the order

Who can get a sexual assault protective order?

Any person against whom an act of nonconsensual sexual contact was committed can file for a sexual assault protective order. You do not need to have any relationship with the abuser to file for a sexual assault protective order. The abuser can be a stranger or an acquaintance.1

1 LA R.S. 46:2183(A)

What are the steps involved with getting a sexual assault protective order?

Is there someone that can assist me with the paperwork?

The clerk of the court will give you the forms you need, inform you about the process of filing for free if applicable, and provide you with access to the notary when one is available to complete the affidavit that is needed for your petition.1 A sexual assault advocate can also help you to fill out your protective order petition.2Note: A sexual assault advocate is someone who has completed specific training and works for a sexual assault or rape crisis center (or similar program).3 To find a sexual assault center and advocates in your area, you can visit the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault site.

1 LA R.S. 46:2186(A)
2 LA R.S. 46:2186(B),(C)

If I talk to a sexual assault advocate about what happened to me, will that information be shared in court?

Louisiana law says it should not be shared in court - as long as the advocate is an employee or representative of a sexual assault center that is “established and accredited in accordance with the standards set by the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault.”1  The law says that the information that you share with such an advocate and any communications that s/he has with you while s/he is providing you with services are considered “privileged.”  If a communication is privileged, that means that there is generally not a requirement to reveal it in court through testimony or to produce any records or documents related to that privileged communication in a civil or criminal proceeding.2  If one of the lawyers in a case tries to get the information by sending a subpoena, both you and the advocate have the right to tell the judge the information is “privileged” and should not be revealed.  It is often best to have a lawyer when trying to quash (fight against) a subpoena.  For legal referrals, go to our LA Finding a Lawyer page.

1 LA R.S. 46:2187(A)(1),(2)
2 LA R.S. 46:2187(A)(1),(B)

If I have another case pending against the abuser, can I still get this protective order?

Yes. Receiving a sexual assault protective order does not prohibit you from also seeking other legal relief against the abuser.1 For example, the abuser can still be prosecuted for committing the sexual assault in criminal court even if you have a sexual assault protective order.

1 LA R.S. 46:2188

Moving to Another State with a Domestic Violence Protective Order

If you are moving out of state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your domestic violence protective order can still be in enforceable.

General rules

Can I get my domestic violence protective order from Louisiana enforced in another state?

Yes. If you have a valid Louisiana PO that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state. The Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law, states that all valid POs granted in the United States receive "full faith and credit" in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories. See How do I know if my domestic violence protective order is good under federal law? to find out if your PO qualifies.

Each state must enforce out-of-state POs in the same way it enforces its own orders. Meaning, if your abuser violates your out-of-state PO, s/he will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated. This is what is meant by "full faith and credit."

How do I know if my domestic violence protective order is good under federal law?

A PO is good anywhere in the United States as long as:

  •  It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2

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 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

I have a temporary restraining order (TRO). Can it be enforced in another state?

Yes. A temporary restraining order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my domestic violence protective order is good under federal law?1

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires. If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court).  However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

1 See 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

Getting your DVPO enforced in another state

How do I get my DVPO enforced in another state?

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your domestic violence protection order (DVPO) enforced in another state.

Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid DVPO is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1 Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

Note: It is important to keep a copy of your DVPO with you at all times. It is also a good idea to know the rules of states you will be living in or visiting to ensure that your out-of-state order can be enforced in a timely manner.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

Do I need anything special to get my DVPO enforced in another state?

It may be helpful to have a certified copy of your protective order. A certified copy says that it is a "true and correct" copy. In Louisiana, a certified order has a stamp and a seal on it.

The copy you originally received should have been a certified copy. If your copy is not a certified copy, go to the court that gave you the order and ask the clerk's office for a certified copy. There is no fee to get a certified copy of a your protective order.

Note: It is generally a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You will also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move. 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.

Can I get someone to help me? Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your PO enforced in another state.

However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to. A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your PO, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.

To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, click on Places that Help and select the appropriate state in the drop-down menu. 

Do I need to tell the court in Louisiana if I move?

You are not required to tell the court in Louisiana if you move, but it might be a good idea to give the court a current address so that you can be notified of any actions that are taken regarding your protective order. If you provide your new address to the court, you can ask that it be kept confidential.1 You can also give the court an adress of a trusted friend or P.O. box if you feel unsafe giving out your street address.

1 LA R.S. 46:2134(B)

Enforcing custody provisions in Louisiana

I was granted temporary custody with my DVPO. Can I take my kids out of the state?

Maybe. It will depend on the exact wording of the custody provision in your DVPO. You may have to first seek the permission of the court before leaving. If the abuser was granted visitation rights with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the court that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation schedule.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children. You can find contact information for lawyers on our LA Finding a Lawyer page.

I was granted temporary custody with my DVPO. Will another state enforce this custody order?

Yes. Custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a DVPO can be enforced across state lines. Law enforcement and courts in another state are required by federal law to enforce these provisions.1

1 18 USC § 2266

Enforcing Your Out-of-State Order in Louisiana

If you are planning to move to Louisiana or are going to be in Louisiana for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in Louisiana

Can I get my protective order enforced in Louisiana? What are the requirements?

Yes. Your protection order can be enforced in Louisiana as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2

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 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

Can I have my out-of-state protective order changed, extended, or canceled in LA?

No. Only the state that issued your protective order can change, extend, or cancel the order. You cannot have this done by a court in Louisiana.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued. You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living.  You will need to contact the clerk of court in your area to find out if this is possible. To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in Louisiana, you may be able to get a new one issued in Louisiana but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Louisiana. To find out more information on how to get a protective order in Louisiana, visit our Protective Orders page.

I was granted temporary custody with my protective order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in LA?

Yes. As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 Louisiana can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets these standards, contact a lawyer in your area. To find a lawyer in your area click here LA Finding a Lawyer.

1 The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

 

Registering your out-of-state DVPO in Louisiana

What is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database that contains protective order information that is used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

All law enforcement officials have access to it, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

How do I register my protective order in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, registering your protective order is called making the order “executory,” which can be done if you file a petition requesting it and attach a copy of your order.  There will be a hearing at which the judge can order the creation of a Uniform Abuse Prevention Order, which the court clerk will file and send to the Louisiana Protective Order Registry.1

If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Louisiana for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area on our LA Advocates and Shelters page.

1 LA R.S. 13:4248

Do I have to register my protective order in LA in order to get it enforced?

No.  Under federal law, you do not have to register your protection order to have it enforced.1  Although LA allows you to register your order (or make it “executory”) in a LA court,  you are not required to do this in order to have it enforced.  For more information, see How do I register my protection order in Louisiana?

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

Will the abuser be notified if I register my protection 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 Tips 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 LA Advocates and Shelters page.

1 18 USC § 2265(d)

What if I don't register my protective order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

Since neither federal nor state law requires that you register your protective order, it should not be more difficult to have your protective order enforced even if you decide not to register it in Louisiana. However, if your order is not registered, it will not be entered into the Louisiana Protective Order Registry, which means it might take more time for a LA police officer to verify that it is a valid order.

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area.  An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Louisiana. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in LA, go to our LA Advocates and Shelters page.

Does it cost anything to register my protective order?

No. There is no fee for registering your protective order in Louisiana.