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Important note: Although courts may be closed or accepting limited cases due to COVID-19, there should still be a way to file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our Frequently Asked Questions Involving Courts and COVID-19, or call your local courthouse for more details.

Legal Information: Mississippi

Mississippi Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

Protective Orders

Basic information

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Mississippi?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a domestic violence protective order.

Under Mississippi law, “abuse” means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between spouses, former spouses, persons living as spouses or who formerly lived as spouses, persons having a child in common, other relatives who live together or formerly lived together or between people who have a current or former dating relationship:

  • Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury or serious bodily injury with or without a deadly weapon;
  • Placing, by physical menace or threat, another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
  • Criminal sexual conduct committed against a minor;
  • Stalking;
  • Cyberstalking;
  • Statutory rape;
  • Rape by force or by drugging the victim;
  • Sexual battery.1

Note: “Abuse” does not include any act of self-defense.1

1 MS Code § 93-21-3(a)

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

A protective order is a court order that is designed to stop your abuser from hurting you and your family. There are 2 types of protective orders.

A temporary order is designed to offer you immediate, emergency protection from the abuser. Temporary orders are granted only if you can prove to the judge through your testimony or petition/affidavit that you need one to prevent immediate harm to you or your family. A judge will assume that if you are asking for a temporary order you will also want a permanent order.

A temporary order generally lasts until the court hearing that you must have in order to receive a permanent order. This usually takes place within 10 days after the abuser has been presented, or served, with the temporary order. If you and the abuser have minor children together, a temporary order can only last up to 30 days, maximum. However, you both do not have minor children in common, a temporary protective order can be longer than 30 days, up to a maximum of 1 year.1

A final order can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story. It offers longer-term legal protection than the temporary order. A final order can last up until such time that the judge believes is appropriate. The expiration date will be clearly written on the order.2

However, if you are given temporary custody, visitation or child support in a final domestic abuse protection order, those terms are only effective for 180 days. For a longer lasting order adderssing those issues, you would have to file separate petitions for custody, visitation or support. If at the end of the one-hundred-eighty-day period, neither party has filed a separate petition regarding those issues, the custody, visitation or support terms will go back to whatever order was in effect regarding those topics when the domestic abuse protection order was granted.3

1 MS Code § 93-21-15(1)(b)
2 MS Code § 93-21-15(2)(b)
3 MS Code § 93-21-15(2)(c)

What protections can I get in a protective order?

A temporary order can:

  • order the abuser to stop abusing you, your children, and any person deemed to be incompetent;
  • order the abuser to stay away from you and/or your household members and from the home, school, and workplace of you and/or other household members;
  • grant you possession of the home and order the abuser to leave the residence (and give you the right to return to the residence if you have left);
  • order the abuser not to contact you and/or other household members in person, by phone, email or text; and
  • prohibit any mutually owned or leased property between you and the abuser from being transferred or disposed (given away or destroyed), unless it is in the ordinary course of business.1

A permanent order can:

  • do all of the things that a temporary order can do (listed above); and
  • the following additional things:
    • grant you possession of the home and order the abuser to leave the residence (and give you the right to return to the residence if you have left) or, by agreement, allow the abuser to provide you with suitable, alternate housing (when the abuser has a duty to support you or your children, and is the sole owner of the residence or household);
    • award temporary custody of or establishing temporary visitation rights for your children;
    • order the abuser to pay temporary spousal support or child support if the respondent is legally obligated to support you or your children;
    • order the abuser to pay you monetary compensation for losses suffered as a direct result of the abuse, including, but not limited to, medical expenses resulting from such abuse, loss of earnings or support, out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained, moving expenses, and reasonable attorney’s fees; and
    • order counseling or professional medical treatment for the abuser, including counseling or treatment designed to help end his/her abusive behaviors.1

Note: The protective order will have a warning to the abuser that possessing a firearm may be against federal law. (See our Federal Gun Laws pages for more information). However, to try to get local police to enforce the firearm restriction, you can ask the judge to include in the protective order that the abuser has to hand over any firearms in his/her possession to the authorities and forbid him/her from buying firearms.

1 MS Code § 93-21-15(1)(a) & (2)(a)

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.

Getting a protective order

Who can get a domestic violence protective order?

If you are being abused (as is defined here), you can apply for a protective order against:

  • a spouse or former spouse
  • someone you live(d) with “as a spouse”
  • someone you have a child in common with
  • someone you are related to by blood, adoption, or marriage who you live(d) with
  • a current or former dating partner.1

Any person over 18 or any person under 18 and legally married can file for a protective order. If the person is a minor (under 18) or the person is alleged to be incompetent, a parent, adult household member, or a “next friend” can file for a protective order on his/her behalf.2

1 MS Code § 93-21-3(a)
2 MS Code § 93-21-7(1)

In what county do I file for a protective order?

You can file for a protective order in any county or municipality where the abuser lives or in any county or municipality where an abusive act(s) took place.1

1 MS Code § 93-21-5(2)

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

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

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

What can I do if I don't qualify for a protective order?

Even if you don’t have the type of relationship needed to get a protective order, the person who is abusing you may still be committing a crime against you and you may want to consider reporting it to law enforcement. If charges are pressed against the perpetrator, a judge may be able to order him/her to stay away from you. You can also visit our Safety Tips page for ways to increase your safety.

If you are being stalked or harassed, you may also want to go to the Stalking Resource Center website for more information on stalking and harassment laws, as well safety planning information.

Protective orders also do not cover many types of emotional or mental abuse. If you’re being mentally or emotionally abused, please contact a domestic violence organization in your area. They can help you figure out your options and offer you support. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit our MS Advocates and Shelters page.

How much does it cost to get a protective order? Do I need a lawyer?

There is no filing fee to get a protective order assuming that you eventually prove to the judge that you have been abused and the judge grants you the order. If the court finds that you are entitled to an order protecting you from abuse, the judge can order the respondent to pay all costs including your attorney’s fees. However, if the judge finds that your allegations are untrue and that you are not a victim of abuse, the judge can possibly order you to pay the costs including the respondent’s attorney’s fees.1

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for a protective order, it may be to your advantage to find a lawyer. This is especially important if your abuser has obtained a lawyer. Even if your abuser does not have a lawyer, if you can, it is recommended that you contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance and domestic violence organizations on the MS Places that Help page. Domestic violence organizations in your area and/or court staff may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary court forms. You will find contact information for courthouses on the MS Courthouse Locations page.

1 MS Code § 93-21-7(3)

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

Steps for obtaining a protective order

Step 1: Go to court and request the forms for a protective order.

You can file a petition for a protective order in either a municipal, justice, county or chancery court.  However, a petition that includes a request for emergency relief (i.e., an immediate ex parte temporary order) pending a hearing shall not be initiated in the chancery court – go to one of the other three types of courts instead.1 

You can find a court near you by going to our MS Courthouse Locations page.  Find the civil court clerk and request a petition for a permanent protective order, and also tell the clerk if you want a temporary order for immediate protection.  Usually you apply for these at the same time.  You can find links to petitions online by going to our MS Download Court Forms page.

1 MS Code § 93-21-7(2)

Step 2: Fill out the necessary forms.

The clerk will provide you with the forms that you need to file. On the protective order form, you will be the “petitioner” and the abuser will be the “defendant.”

Carefully fill out the forms.  Write briefly about the incidents of violence, using descriptive language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, choking, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Be specific.  Include details and dates, if possible. 

If you need assistance filling out the forms, ask the clerk for help.  Some courts may have an advocate that can assist you.  Also, a domestic violence organization may be able to provide you with help filling out the forms.  To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit our MS Advocates and Shelters page.

Note:  Do not sign the petition until you have shown it to a clerk, as the form may need to be notarized or signed in the presence of court personnel.

Step 3: A judge will review your application.

After you finish filling out the forms, bring them to the court clerk. The clerk will forward them to a judge. The judge may wish to ask you questions as he or she reviews your petition. The judge will decide whether or not to issue the temporary order, and a date for a permanent protective order hearing. You will be given papers that state the time and date of your hearing for a permanent order.

If the judge grants you a temporary ex parte protective order, the court clerk will give you a copy of the order. Review the order before you leave the courthouse to make sure that the information is correct. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk how to correct the order before you leave.

Step 4: Service of process

The abuser must be served with a notice of hearing and with any orders that a judge has granted you. The temporary order is not enforceable until it has been served on the abuser.

Service policies vary from county to county, but usually the court will send copies of the order and notice of hearing to the police or sheriff, who will then serve the abuser. However, in some areas you may have to bring the papers to the sheriff or police yourself.

Ask the court clerk or a domestic violence organization for more information about serving the abuser. Do not attempt to serve the papers on the abuser yourself.

You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?

Step 5: The hearing

A judge will set a hearing date within 10 court business days of filing your temporary order.

You must go to the hearing. 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 protective order, or the judge may order a new hearing date.

Continuance. You have the right to bring a lawyer to represent you at the hearing. 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. If the court does issue a continuance, the court should also reissue or extend your temporary order since your original one will probably expire before the rescheduled hearing.1

If you are going to be representing yourself, you can go to our Preparing Your Case page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused. For legal referrals, go to our MS Finding a Lawyer page.

1 MS Code § 93-21-9

After the hearing

If I disagree with the judge's decision to issue a protective order against me, can I appeal?

If the judge in a municipal or justice court issued a temporary order against you, you may be able to appeal to the chancery court. The chancery court would hold a new trial (“trial de novo”) within ten days. At the end of the trial de novo, if the petitioner has proven that you committed abuse against him/her, then the chancery court can grant a final domestic abuse protection order.1

If the judge in a county court issued a final protective order against you or denied your request for a final order, you may be able to appeal to the chancery court. When the court has issued a final order after a trial, there would not be a new trial on appeal. Instead, the chancery court would review the record and make a decision as to whether or not the trial court judge made an error in granting or denying the final order. The “record” includes the transcript of the original trial, any exhibits that were entered into evidence, as well as any appellate briefs filed by either party.2 To read more about the appeals process in general, go to our File an Appeal page in the Preparing for Court - By Yourself section.

If you are appealing a temporary or final order, you must file a written notice of appeal with the chancery court clerk within ten days of the issuance of the order and follow specific rules for serving the papers on the other party. The clerk may also require that you pay filing fees unless you can get them waived due to your income.3

1 MS Code § 93-21-15.1(1)(a)
2 MS Code § 93-21-15.1(2)(a)
3 MS Code § 93-21-15.1(1)(b), (2)(b), (4)

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 questions on this page to see if judges in Mississippi 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?

Here are some ideas for things that you may want to do when leaving court – you will have to decide which ones work for you:

  • Make several copies of the protective order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • 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.
  • One week after court, call your local law enforcement offices to make sure they have received copies of the order for protection.  If they have not, you may want to ask if you can deliver a copy to them.
  • Take steps to safety plan, including possibly changing your locks and your phone number.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the 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 batterers obey protective orders, but some do not.  It is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  For more information please visit the Safety Tips page.  Advocates at local domestic violence programs can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.

The judge denied me a protective order. What can I do?

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 come up with a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need.  To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit our MS Advocates and Shelters page.  You will also find information on safety planning on our Safety Tips page.

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.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

You can call the police or sheriff immediately, even if you think it is a minor violation. If an abuser violates an order, s/he may be arrested and jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to $1,000.1 Another option is to file civil contempt of court charges against the abuser in the court that issued you the order. However, a person cannot be held in contempt and convicted of a misdemeanor due to the same violation of the order.2 You may wish to speak with an attorney for advice if you want advice on filing for contempt or to find out what the possible penalties can be.

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. Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made. If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it may help you in future court cases.

Note: If you let the abuser back into your residence, place of employment or anywhere the protective order prohibits him/her from going, it may be harder to have the order enforced in the future.

1 MS Code § 93-21-21(1)
2 MS Code § 93-21-21(2)

How do I change or extend the restraining order?

To change or extend your order you will have to file a petition, and the abuser will have an opportunity to present any arguments s/he may have regarding the changes/extension that you are asking to be made to the protective order.  Only a judge can change, extend, or cancel a protective order.

You will have to file the petition in the court that originally issued your protective order. A local domestic violence organization can help you with this. To find an local organization or advocate please visit our MS Advocates and Shelters page under the Places that Help tab on the top of this page.

 

What happens if I move?

Your protective order is good in all Mississippi counties. If you move within the state, it may be a good idea to let the law enforcement in your new area know about your order.  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.  Please see our Moving to Another State with a Protective Order page for more information.

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 there.

 

Moving to Another State with a Protective Order

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

General rules

Can I get my protective order from Mississippi enforced in another state?

If you have a valid Mississippi protective order that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state. See How do I know if my protective order is good under federal law? to find out if your protective order qualifies.

The Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law, states that all valid protective orders granted in the United States receive “full faith and credit” in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories. Each state must enforce out-of-state protective orders in the same way it enforces its own orders. Therefore, if the abuser violates an out-of-state protective order, 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 protective order is good under federal law?

A protective order 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 (ex parte) order. Can it be enforced in another state?

An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my protective order is good under federal law?1

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte 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 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

Getting your Mississippi protective order enforced in another state

How do I get my protective order enforced in another state?

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your protective order 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 protective order 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.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

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

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your protective order. A certified copy says that it is a “true and correct” copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp on it. In Mississippi, a certified order is called an “attested” order, and it has a stamp with the date it was filed along with the clerk’s signature.

If the copy you originally received was not a certified copy, you can go to the court that gave you the order and ask the clerk’s office for a certified copy.

Note: It is 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 to 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. You can give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a picture of the abuser and you can 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 protective order 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.  To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, select your state from the menu on the Places that Help tab located on the top of this page.

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

You are not required to tell the court in Mississippi 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 also ask them to keep it confidential. If you show the court that revealing your address would put you at risk, then the court will keep it confidential.1

1 MS Code § 93-21-9(7)

Enforcing custody provisions in another state

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

Whether or not you can remove your kids from Mississippi may depend on the exact wording of the custody provision in your protective order. 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 local domestic violence organizations and legal assistance on our MS Places that Help page.

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

Custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a protective order 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 Mississippi

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

General rules for out-of-state orders in Mississippi

Can I get my protection order enforced in Mississippi? What are the requirements?

Yes. Your protection order can be enforced in Mississippi 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 MS?

Generally, the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order. You likely cannot have this done by a court in Mississippi.

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. 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 Mississippi, you may be able to get a new one issued in Mississippi but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Mississippi. To find out more information on how to get a protective order in Mississippi, visit our MS Protective Orders page.

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

As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 Mississippi 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 MS 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 order in Mississippi

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.1

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.2 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 National Center for Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit
2 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 Mississippi?

To register a foreign (out-of-state) protection order, you must present a certified copy of the order to the chancery clerk’s office of any county in the state.  You also have to file an affidavit (sworn statement), which says that you truthfully believe the order is still in effect.1  After the order is registered, the clerk will give you a certified copy of the registered order.

The process for registering your order might be different in a justice court, so you might want to contact a local domestic violence organization in Mississippi for assistance.  To find an advocate at a local program, please visit the MS Advocates and Shelters page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.

1 MS Code § 93-22-9(1),(3)

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

It is not required that an order be registered in court in order to have it enforced.1 Mississippi state law gives full protection to an out-of-state protective order as long as you can show the officer a copy of the order and can truthfully tell the officer that you believe the order is still in effect.2

The order does not have to be entered into the state or federal registry in order to be enforced by a Mississippi police officer, but the officer does need to believe that it is a valid (real) order.3

1 MS Code §93-22-9(1), (4)
2 MS Code §§ 93-21-16(1); 93-22-7(1)
3 MS Code § 93-22-7(4)

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 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 MS 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 Mississippi state law requires you to register your protective order, it should not be more difficult to have your order enforced even if you do not register it. Additionally, Mississippi state law requires law enforcement officials to enforce an out-of-state protective order even if it has not been registered in Mississippi as long as you can show the officer a copy of the order that appears to be valid.1

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 Mississippi. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations, go to our MS Advocates and Shelters page.

1 MS Code §§ 93-21-16(1); 93-22-7(1), (4)