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