What if the abuser violates the order?
Violating a restraining order can be a crime. There are two main ways to get help if the abuser violates your order.
1. Through the Police or Sheriff (Criminal System)
If the defendant violates the restraining order, you can call 911 immediately. In some cases, the defendant can be arrested right away. Tell the officers you have a restraining order and the defendant is violating it. If the defendant is arrested, then the Attorney General can prosecute the abuser because it is a crime to violate a restraining order. If found guilty of a violation of a restraining order, the defendant can be punished by a fine of as much as $1,000 and/or by up to 1 year in jail, and may be ordered to attend counseling.1
2. Through the Civil Court System (Civil System)
You may file for civil contempt for a violation of the order. The abuser can be “held in civil contempt” if s/he or she does anything that your restraining order orders him/her not to do. To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk’s office and ask for the forms.
1 See RI Gen. Laws §§ 8-8.1-7; 15-15-7