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What is a Restraining Order in Alabama?

Filing for a protective order in Alabama

A restraining order is a legal document in Alabama that orders one party to stay completely away from another party. Physical abuse, threats, harassment, and stalking behavior are the most common reasons for a court to issue a restraining order. Obtaining a restraining order is often necessary in a relationship that has become increasingly abusive. If you find yourself on the receiving end of such behavior by a former partner or someone else in your household, you need to understand the different types of restraining orders in Alabama and what they can do for you.  Contacting an experienced and compassionate advocate can be vital to protecting your rights and keeping you safe.

Who Can File for a Protection from Abuse Order in Alabama?

State law allows you to file a protection order if you’re a domestic abuse victim or have reason to believe you’re in immediate danger. The perpetrator can be a current or former romantic partner or another household member. For the purposes of a restraining order, the state considers the following to be domestic abuse:

  • Assault in the first, second, or third degree
  • Arson
  • Criminal coercion
  • Criminal trespass
  • Harassment
  • Kidnapping in the first or second degree
  • Menacing
  • Rape, sexual assault, or sodomy
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Stalking in the first or second degree and/or aggravated stalking
  • Theft, including gaining control of jointly owned property through deception
  • Unlawful imprisonment

At the discretion of the ordering judge, a restraining order in Alabama can order the abusive person to do or not do the following:

  • Abuse or threaten you and any minor children in the home
  • Stay away from your workplace and the schools of minor children
  • Engage in communication meant to harass you or minor children
  • Interfere with you, whether you’re accompanied by a police officer or alone, when removing minor children from the abuser’s presence
  • Award you temporary custody and child support
  • Give you possession of the abuser’s car if you have no other means of transportation and he or she has another vehicle or access to public transportation
  • Evict the abuser from your residence
  • Require him or her to pay your attorney fees
  • Make the abuser ineligible to sell jointly owned property or hide assets

Terms of a Restraining Order in Alabama

Unless special circumstances exist, a restraining order is good for one year from the date of issue. You may apply on behalf of yourself, your minor children, or an adult in your home that’s physical or mental disabilities prevent him or her from doing so. The order protects you, your minor children, and family and household members who may feel threatened by the abuser due to their relationship with you.

Difference in Restraining Orders Issued by Civil and Criminal Courts

The person abusing or harassing you may have a restraining order issued against him or her by both a civil court and a criminal court. The major differences between the two are the reason for the case and who takes it to court. With most civil cases, it is the abused or harassed person who requests the restraining order.

In this case you are requesting assistance from the court for the person to stop bothering you. You’re not asking the offending party be sent to jail, although that could happen if the offending party chooses to disregard the order. You also have the right to ask the civil court to drop a Protection from Abuse order at your discretion.

If your abuse case reaches an Alabama criminal court, it means the person who hurt you has been charged with a crime. This could include assault, battery, theft, or any number of criminal charges. In this situation, it’s the criminal prosecutor who has final say over whether the person abusing or harassing you must continue to be subject to the terms of a restraining order. The county or state brings the case against the offending party and not the one who was the target of abuse.

Even if you want to drop charges in a criminal case, you may not be able to. The prosecutor may continue to move forward with the case and can even subpoena you to testify against the person who has threatened your safety.

The circumstances surrounding the need to file a restraining order are frightening and overwhelming, yet can be necessary to live a life free of abuse and harassment. If you need assistance with the process, please contact the experienced Family & Criminal Law Attorney at the Law Office of Ginger Poynter, LLC  to schedule a time for a consultation.  We can be reached at (251) 445-8313 or online via our client contact form.

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