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Restraining Orders

Restraining orders are civil orders issued by a court that restrict contact between one person and another.

In Rhode Island, a temporary restraining order (TRO) can be obtained from the District, Family, or Superior Courts, depending on the relationship between the parties.

For example, restraining orders can be sought in Family Court if the plaintiff (person seeking the order) and the defendant: are or were married, are related by blood or marriage, have children in common, or are minors.

Restraining orders can be sought in District Court if the plaintiff and defendant are not related by blood or marriage but have cohabitated for some period of time within the past three years or have had a substantive dating relationship.

Restraining orders can be sought in Superior Court in cases not connected with domestic relations or where the case does not meet the criteria for Family or District Court.

No Contact Orders

A No Contact Order (NCO) is a court order prohibiting the defendant from contacting the victim.

It is like a restraining order, except that it applies to a criminal case.

A No Contact Order is ordered at the arraignment for domestic violence cases. The No Contact Order is in effect while the case is pending and throughout the time of sentencing and disposition.

The No Contact Order means that the offender should not contact the victim in any way, including phone calls, letters, and visits. Any violation of a No Contact Order can result in an additional criminal charge and a violation of the defendant's bail/probation.

A No Contact Order can only be vacated by a judge.

Coverage of Protective Orders

Any protective order (i.e. restraining order or No Contact Order) issued under Rhode Island's Domestic Violence Prevention Act is, pursuant to the federal Violence Against Women Act of 1994, enforceable in all 50 states, any territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and tribal lands.5

In addition, any protective order issued in another jurisdiction shall be enforced and given "full faith and credit" throughout Rhode Island for as long as the order is in effect.6


5Rhode Island General Laws 12-29-1.2

6Rhode Island General Laws 12-29-1.1

Firearms

It is against federal law for a person to possess a firearm while subject to a protective order.7


718 USC 2261 (1994), 18 USC 2262 (1994), 18 USC 922 (g) (1994).

Batterers Intervention Programs

By law, every domestic violence offender who is sentenced under Rhode Island General Law 12-29-5 must be referred to a certified Batterers Intervention Program.