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.