If I share a cell phone account with the abuser, can I transfer the account into my name?
If you have been given a domestic violence protection order, you can ask the judge to give you an order to change control of a telephone number (“Orden de Cambio en Control sobre Número Telefónico”). This document will order the cell phone company to transfer into your name, at no additional cost, the responsibility, control, and a change of the phone number (if you wish). You can also make the same changes and transfers for the phone numbers of any minors in your custody and request that all personal information be removed from any directory or listing at no additional cost. You will have 30 days from being given the order to make these changes.1
1 8 L.P.R.A. § 640a
What should I do when I leave the courthouse?
Once the hearing is finished, before leaving the courthouse there are some things you may want to consider doing. Do those that you think will help you.
- Check the order before leaving the courthouse. Make sure that nothing is missing and if there is an error, tell the clerk.
- Make several copies of the order as soon as possible.
- Always keep a copy with you.
- Leave copies of the order at your work, your home, the school where your children attend, with the people who care for your children, in your car, with a neighbor, friend, etc.
- Give a copy to the security guard in the building or complex where you live and/or work, along with a photo of the abuser.
- Give a copy to anyone named in or protected by the order.
- If the courthouse has not already delivered a copy to the police station nearest your residence, give them one of your copies.
- If you want and if it is allowed, you may want to change the locks on the doors of your home and change your phone number.
You can make a safety plan. People can do several things to help protect themselves during abuse, while preparing to leave an abusive relationship and after leaving the relationship. Many abusers obey protection orders but some do not and it is important to keep doing things to protect yourself. You can read suggestions about how to stay safe on our Safety Tips page.
I was not granted a protection order. What are my options?
If you did not get a protection order, there are other ways that you can stay safe. It may be a good idea to contact a domestic violence organization in your area to get help, support and legal advice. They can help you to develop a safety plan and connect you with the information that you are looking for. For information and ideas for safety planning, visit the page Staying Safe. You can find contact information for domestic violence organizations at PR Advocates and Shelters.
You may be able to apply again for a protection order if new acts of violence occur after having been denied the order.
If you think that the judge made an error, you can talk to a lawyer about the possibility of filing an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and it is very likely that you will need the help of a lawyer. For more information about appeals, go to our Filing Appeals page.
What happens if the abuser violates the order?
If you think that the abuser has violated the order, you can call the police to report it. A violation of a protection order can be a class three felony.1 You can also ask the court to hold the other party in contempt for violating the protection order, which can lead to jail time, a fine or both.2
1 8 L.P.R.A. § 628
2 8 L.P.R.A § 626(b)
What happens if I move?
Your protection order should be valid and can be enforced in all of Puerto Rico and the United States. Federal law contains a provision called “full faith and credit” that mandates that if you have a criminal or civil protection order, it is valid in every US state, including US territories and tribal lands. You can contact a local domestic violence program or a clerk of court to find the specific rules in your state. If you move out of state you may want to call a domestic violence program in your new state to find out how that state treats orders from other states. You can read more on our Moving to Another State with a Protection Order page.
If you move to another state, you can also call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111) for more information about how to enforce your order.
Note: For information about how to enforce a military protection order (MPO) outside of a military base, or how to enforce a civil protection order (CPO) on a military base, please see our page Military Protective Orders.
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 Puerto Rico have the 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.
If I get a protection order, will it show up in an internet search?
According to federal law, which applies to all states, territories, and tribal lands, the courts are not supposed to make available publicly on the internet any information that would be likely to reveal your identity or location. This applies to all of these documents:
- the petition you file;
- the protection order, restraining order, or injunction that was issued by the court; or
- the registration of an order in a different state.1
1 18 USC § 2265(d)(3)