Rhode Island Protective Orders Laws

Note: If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence 24 Hour Helpline at 1-800-494-8100, or your local police department.

Protective orders, also called orders of protection or restraining orders, may be ordered by a court upon the request of an individual who feels legitimately threatened by the actions of another person. They are often used to protect domestic violence or stalking victims from the perpetrator, and in many cases are ordered automatically.

The individual named in a protective order -- such as an alleged stalker or abuser -- is required to keep a certain distance away from the victim (or alleged victim) for a specified period of time, including telephone calls and other forms of unsolicited contact. While restraining orders also may be used to protect celebrities from overly-obsessive fans, these instances are actually quite rare.

Rhode Island Protective Order Laws at a Glance

In Rhode Island, orders of protection may last up to three years (and may be extended), but temporary restraining orders (which also may be extended) last 21 days. In order to apply for a temporary restraining order, go to your local state courthouse and fill out the proper paperwork, including a sworn affidavit, and wait for the judge to review and approve the order. See the Domestic Violence Victim Information (PDF) pamphlet from the Rhode Island Supreme Court for more details.

Additional provisions of Rhode Island's protective orders statute are listed in the following chart. See FindLaw's Domestic Violence section for additional articles and resources.

Code Section 15-15-1, et seq., 12-29-5
Activity Addressed by Order Enjoin contact; exclude from dwelling; regarding minors: temporary custody, support
Duration of Order Support payments: maximum 90 days. General: maximum 3 years, may be extended. Temporary: maximum 21 days, maybe extended
Penalty for a Violation of Order Contempt of court. If defendant has actual notice of protective order: misdemeanor: jail maximum 1 year and/or fine maximum $1,000 and counseling
Who May Apply for Order Any victim of domestic abuse
Can Fees Be Waived? Yes
Order Transmission to Law Enforcement Copy forwarded immediately to law enforcement agency designated by petitioner
Civil Liability for Violation of Order Yes, contempt of court

Note: State laws are not set in stone and may change at any time through the enactment of new legislation, decisions from higher courts, and other means. You may want to contact a Rhode Island criminal defense attorney or family law attorney, or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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