What is a sexual violence protection order?
A sexual violence protection order is a civil order issued by a judge to protect a victim of sexual violence from other incidents of abuse. You do not need to file a complaint with the police or criminal charges to qualify for this order.1
1 8 L.P.R.A. § 1281
What is the legal definition of sexual violence in Puerto Rico?
This section defines sexual violence for the purposes of getting a protection order. “Sexual violence” means any of these acts:
- sexual assault;
- lewd acts;
- sexual harassment; and
1 8 L.P.R.A. § 1281
What types of sexual violence protection orders are there?
There are two types of orders: ex parte temporary orders and final orders.
Depending on the circumstances, a judge might give you an ex parte temporary protection order on the same day that you file your petition. Ex parte means that it is granted without the abuser being notified beforehand or present at the hearing. This type of order may be granted if:
- it has not been possible to serve the other party a copy of the summons and petition despite diligently trying;
- serving the other party is likely to cause you irreversible (irreparable) harm, which is what the requested protection order is meant to prevent; or
- there is a strong possibility of an immediate risk to your safety or the safety of a family member.1
If an ex parte order is issued, the other party must be served with it within 48 hours from when it was issued. This service of process must:
- include a copy of the order and any other forms;
- let the other party know that s/he can object to the order; and
- include the date for the hearing, which must take place within 20 days from when the order was issued.1
During this hearing where both parties are present, the judge can either dismiss the sexual violence protection order or issue a final protection order for whatever time period s/he believes is necessary.1Among other things, the final order must include the protections ordered and how long it will last.2
1 8 L.P.R.A. § 1285(f)
2 8 L.P.R.A. § 1286(a)
What protections can I get in a sexual violence protection order?
In a sexual violence protection order, the judge can order the abuser to:
- not bother, harass, stalk, intimidate, or threaten you;
- stay away from any place where you are if the judge believes that it would prevent the abuser from bothering, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with you or your family member;
- turn over to the police any firearms for which s/he has a license to possess, carry, or use for target practice if the judge believes that the firearm could be used to hurt you or your family; and
- follow any other order necessary for your protection.1
1 8 L.P.R.A. § 1282