How do I register my protection order in Maine? Do I have to register it to get it enforced?
You can register your out-of-state protection order in the office of the clerk of any District Court or of any Superior Court in Maine. The clerk must treat the order in the same manner as an order that was issued in Maine would be treated.1 Bring a certified copy of the order along with a photocopy of the order.
You do not need a lawyer to register your protection order. If you are confused or worried about the process, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Maine to ask for help from a local advocate. To find a local domestic violence organization in Maine, please go to our ME Advocates and Shelters page.
In terms of whether or not you need to register your order, police officers are required by federal law to enforce your protection order, whether or not it is registered. However, it can sometimes be easier to enforce an order that is registered.
1 ME ST T. 14 § 8003
Will the abuser be notified if I register my protection order in Maine?
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 ME Advocates and Shelters page.
1 18 USC § 2265(d)
What if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?
Maybe. If your order is not entered into the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) database (a national database of protection orders that some states keep records in), and you do not have a copy of your order with you when the police officer arrives, it may be difficult to for the ME police officer to make sure that your order is real. If the officer cannot verify that your order is real, s/he may not be able to enforce your order.
If you do not register your order, it is a good idea to keep a copy of your order with you at all times. If you do not register your order and you do not have a copy with you, you can ask officer who arrives on the scene to either call the court that issued your order or the law enforcement authority that gave you your order to verify it.
Note: If you have a copy of your protection order with you, and if it is listed in the NCIC, then it may not matter if your protection order is registered in Maine or not.
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 Maine. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in ME, go to our ME Advocates and Shelters page.
Does it cost anything to register my protection order?
There is no cost to register your order.1
1 ME ST T. 14 § 8006(2)