Domestic Violence and Stalking
In general, domestic violence is a pattern of threatening or violent actions, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, by one person against another person when both are “household members.” Under Alaska law, “household members” do not have to live together, but the term includes:
- adults or minors (children under the age of 18) who are now or have in the past been married to each other, or related by marriage;
- adults or minors who live together now or lived together in the past (includes any roommates, not just those with a sexual relationship);
- adults or minors who are dating or having a sexual relationship, or who have dated or had a sexual relationship in the past;
- adults or minors who are related to each other up to being first cousins;
- two persons who have a child
Stalking means a person repeatedly contacts a victim who does not want to be contacted, or a family member, and puts that person in fear of being injured or killed. Stalking is a crime that can justify a domestic violence protective order. You can also request a protective order that is specifically for a victim of stalking or sexual assault.
A domestic violence protective order is a court order that prohibits a person from committing or threatening to commit domestic violence against another person. A person who violates a protective order can be arrested and charged with a crime. The purpose of a domestic violence protective order, sometimes called a restraining order, is to provide immediate, temporary legal protection for a person who has experienced or been threatened with domestic violence. A domestic violence protective order can be:
- an emergency protective order that lasts for 72 hours;
- an ex parte protective order that lasts for 20 days; or
- a long-term protective order that stays in effect for one
It rarely happens, but if the victim agrees, a police officer can ask a judge to issue an emergency protective order. The police officer can call the judge from the scene of a domestic violence incident and describe what happened. If the judge decides it is reasonable to believe a domestic violence crime occurred between household members, the judge can issue an emergency protective order. The abuser does not have to be told that the officer or victim is asking for the protective order. An emergency protective order gives the victim 72 hours (3 days) of protection. In this time the victim can ask for a longer lasting and more detailed protective order.
Most domestic violence protective order cases begin with a request for an ex parte protective order. Ex parte means the person requesting the protective order (called the petitioner) can go to court to ask for the protective order without telling the other person (called the respondent). The judge will issue an ex parte order that lasts for 20 days if he or she decides it is reasonable to believe a domestic violence crime occurred between household members. An ex parte protective order will prohibit the respondent from committing or threatening to commit domestic violence against the petitioner. An ex parte order may also:
- prohibit or limit the respondent from contacting the petitioner,
- give the petitioner temporary custody of children, or possession of a residence and
A long-term protective order can last for one year, but will be issued only after the respondent also has a chance to appear in court and tell his or her side of the story. The judge will issue the long-term protective order if the judge finds that the greater weight of evidence shows that a crime of domestic violence has occurred between household members. A long-term protective order prohibits the respondent from committing or threatening to commit domestic violence, stalking, or harassing the petitioner. The order may prohibit the respondent from any contact with the petitioner, and may resolve issues regarding children, property, and other matters. For example, a long-term protective order may do one or more of the following:
- order the respondent not to contact or communicate with the petitioner, not to enter or follow a vehicle the petitioner is in, and not to be near the petitioner’s home, school, work place, or other specific places the petitioner visits;
- order the respondent to move out of the home of the petitioner, and give the petitioner possession and use of a vehicle and other essential items (regardless of who owns or leases the home, vehicle or other items); the court may request a police officer to go to the home with the petitioner to make sure he or she gets back in the house safely, or gets a vehicle or personal items;
- prohibit the respondent from using any weapons or consuming drugs or alcohol;
- award temporary custody of children, and require the respondent to pay support for the petitioner and any child in the petitioner’s care;
- require the respondent to reimburse the petitioner for expenses from the domestic violence, including medical expenses, counseling, shelter, and repair or replacement of damaged property;
- order the respondent to participate in treatment or rehabilitation
To request a domestic violence protection order or a stalking protective order, you fill out a form you can get from the Alaska Court system. You can get the forms at any court clerk’s office.
You can also get the forms at most shelters, and possibly through the local police or VPSO. You do not have to pay to file a petition for a protective order.
Be sure to fill out the petition carefully. You can ask for an ex parte protective order and a long-term protective order on the same form by checking the boxes for both. You may also request a long-term protective order without requesting an ex parte order, stating in the petition that you are only asking for a long-term protective order. But be aware that without an ex parte order, you have no order in place until the court grants a long-term protective order.
To get a domestic violence protective order, you must show that you and the person you want protection from (the respondent) are “household members.” You can check a box on the form to show which “household member” relationship you and the respondent have.
You also have to show that the respondent committed an act that is a crime listed in the law as a basis for a protective order. You do not have to call the police or show that the respondent was arrested or convicted for the crime. You don’t have to know the legal name of the crime the respondent committed against you. You only need to describe in detail what the respondent did to you. It is important to describe the most recent incidents and provide as much detail as possible so it is clear to the judge why you believe you need the protective order.
The judge will figure out which, if any, crime was committed. You may be able to get a protective order even if the respondent didn’t hit you because not all of these crimes involve actual physical harm. Some of the most common crimes that justify protective orders are explained here:
- Assault is any kind of physical harm, like It also includes any threat to do physical injury if the threat can be carried out right then.
- Reckless endangerment occurs when someone’s acts create a danger of injury to another For example if a person punches the wall next to another person’s head, the reckless act also put the other person in danger of being hurt.
- Stalking occurs when someone engages in repeated acts of non-consensual contact with the victim or a family member that places that person in fear of physical injury or
- Sexual offenses include all forms of sexual assault, incest, unwanted sexual contact, and Sexual offenses can occur even if the parties are married.
- Harassment occurs when someone calls on the phone and will not hang up so that the other person cannot make or receive phone calls, makes repeated telephone calls at extremely inconvenient hours, makes an anonymous or obscene phone call, or makes a call that threatens physical
If you are under 18, your parent or guardian can request a protective order on your behalf. If you can’t have a parent or guardian file on your behalf, you can file the petition yourself. The court may decide to appoint a guardian ad litem or attorney to represent you. You can read more about guardians ad litem in another part of this section.
The judge will read the petition and may have a hearing on your request for an ex parte order. The judge may ask you questions. You can bring a friend or advocate as support. If the judge grants the ex parte order, it goes into effect when the judge signs the order, but the respondent will not know it is in effect until he or she gets a copy from the police.
If you also request a long-term protective order, the judge will set a date approximately twenty days later for a hearing. The ex parte order will list the date, time, and location of the long-term order hearing. When police give a copy of the ex parte order to the respondent, he or she will have notice of the hearing on the long-term order.
The judge holds this hearing to decide whether to grant a long-term protective order that will stay in effect for a whole year. The respondent is told when this hearing will occur, and has a chance to present arguments and evidence that may contradict your own. The hearing is open to the public. There may be other domestic violence cases scheduled at the same time as your hearing, so you will wait until your case is called. You can watch one of the hearings before your own to see how the court process works. As the petitioner, you must show up or the case will be dismissed. If the respondent does not show up, the case goes ahead and only the petitioner’s side of the case is heard.
Everyone who will testify will be required to swear or affirm that they will tell the truth. The judge will also ask the name, address, and occupation of each person who will testify. If you do not want the respondent to know your address, you can tell the court to keep your address confidential and give it to the judge on a piece of paper instead of stating it out loud.
As the petitioner, you will present your side of the case first. You may offer evidence including your own testimony, testimony of other witnesses who have personal knowledge of the abuse that you suffered, photographs, medical records, damaged items, police reports, bills or estimates. Many cases have only the testimony of the petitioner and respondent so it’s OK if you don’t have other evidence. Make sure you are very organized and specific about the information you present to the judge.
Always remember to be respectful in court, even if the respondent says something that is upsetting or false. Speak only when it is your turn. The judge will let you know when it is your time to speak. Always look at and speak to the judge, not the respondent. Don’t argue with the respondent, attorney, or the judge. It is OK to cry if you are upset or frightened, but if the judge sees that you are calm, he or she may be less likely to believe the respondent’s statements that you are the abuser or the one with the problem.
After both side present their cases, the judge will decide whether the “preponderance of the evidence” shows that the respondent committed a crime of domestic violence against the petitioner. This means that the judge will compare both parties’ evidence and decide which side is more convincing. If the judge finds that a crime of domestic violence occurred, he or she will enter the long-term protective order for one year and address other necessary issues.
If the judge does not find enough evidence to grant a long-term protective order, the case will be dismissed and you will not have a protective order. You need to prepare for this situation before you go to the hearing. If you are afraid to return home, you may want to have a suitcase packed with things you need like clothing and toiletries, important documents, prescription medicines, eyeglasses, check books, credit cards, and some money if possible. Contact an advocate to help you with safety planning. Also view the list of shelters, victims’ services, and resource programs on the ANDVSA website. If you are in the Mat-Su Valley, Alaska Family Services provides shelter and counseling to women and children: visit www.akafs.org or call 746-6273.
A protective order may have a wide range of legal protections for you and your children, and be very effective in stopping domestic violence. There may be serious consequences to the respondent if he or she does not follow the order’s provision.
It is important, however, to recognize the limitations of a protective order. It is most effective when both parties follow its provisions. You must be vigilant in enforcing the order’s provisions by reporting every violation to the police department or the court. You must continue to use safety planning and good sense after receiving the order. Consider getting counseling for yourself, and the children if you have any, to understand the impact of being in an abusive relationship. Advocates can help you to design a safety plan and provide counseling services.
If the respondent has been served with the protective order and purposefully violates its provisions, report the violations to the appropriate authority:
Alert the police if criminal parts of the order are violated. It is a misdemeanor crime to violate certain parts of the protective order. Since each order is different, here are some examples of criminal violations:
- committing or threatening to commit domestic violence;
- violating provisions that prohibit contact;
- refusing to leave the home;
- entering or following the victim’s vehicle.
If the violation is a crime, call the local police, the Alaska State Troopers, or the VPSO, depending where you live. When you make the call, state that there is a protective order in effect, give the court case number, and describe the violation. Ask for the police officer’s name and a report number and write this information down because you may need it later. If there is also a criminal case going on against the abuser from the original incident of domestic violence, call the prosecutor involved in that case. If the respondent is arrested for violating an order, the State District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the respondent if there is enough evidence. The respondent may be sent to jail for up to one year and ordered to pay a fine if convicted.
Alert the judge if civil parts of the order are violated. Examples of civil violations by the respondent are:
- refusing to attend counseling;
- refusing to pay child support;
- refusing to reimburse medical bills; or
- refusing to give certain personal property to you.
If the respondent commits civil violations that affect you and the usefulness of the protective order, such failing to pay child support or attend counseling, tell the court. You can do this by:
- asking the court to hold the respondent in contempt for failing to follow the court order, or
- filing a motion to modify to ask for a change in the order.
Only the judge has the power to modify a protective order. Even if both parties agree to change part of the order, the change must be made through the legal system. The police and court will not help you to enforce a change unless you got a court order to modify it. Allowing the respondent to ignore one part of the order could encourage violations of other parts.
To modify a protective order, fill out a form called Request to Modify or Dissolve Protective Order (DV-135). The forms are available at the court and on the Alaska Court System website. You need to fill in the caption with the names of the parties and case number exactly as it is shown on the protective order, and explain in writing how you want the order modified. You can ask for your address and phone number to be kept confidential. If you are asking to modify an ex parte protective order, the court will schedule a hearing on three days notice. If you are asking to modify a long-term protective order, the judge may schedule a hearing within 20 days after the request. The judge may find that a request has no merit, and deny the request without a hearing. The judge may give the respondent a chance to respond to your request in writing. If the judge holds a hearing, he or she may decide the request in court and give you a written order granting or denying your request. Sometimes the judge issues a decision after the hearing, notifying the parties by mail. If the judge does not hold a hearing, you will receive an order in the mail telling you the judge’s decision. If you change your address, it is very important to inform the clerk at the court so you can be notified of all hearings scheduled in the case.
The police and court system in Alaska will enforce an unexpired protective order that was issued by a court in another state if you file it with the Alaska court. You may need a certified copy of your unexpired protective order from the other state. The police, the local court, an advocate, a private attorney, or Alaska Legal Services may also be able to assist you with this matter. You can also contact the Family Law Self-Help Center help line to understand how to register your out-of-state order in Alaska. Call (907) 264-0851 or toll free in Alaska but outside Anchorage at (866) 279-0851.
The part of a protective order that prohibits the respondent from threatening to commit or committing domestic violence stays in effect indefinitely, until a judge rules otherwise. But most parts of long- term protective orders expire after one year, and cannot be extended automatically. You need to fill out a new petition and begin the process again. To get an additional order, describe if a new domestic violence incident occurred during the previous protective order or state the reason that you believe you continue to need the court’s protection.
If you are the petitioner and you want to end a protective order, you may fill out the court form to Request to Modify or Dissolve Protective Order (DV-135). Check the box for “Dissolve” and state why you wants to end the order. Then court will dissolve the order and its provisions will no longer be in effect.
If you are the respondent, and you want to dismiss a protective order, file a Request to Modify or Dissolve Protective Order. If you file this motion before the hearing on the motion for long-term protective order, the court will usually deny the request and tell you to wait until the hearing to present the your side of the story. If you file the Request to Dissolve after the long-term hearing, the judge will decide whether to hold a hearing to hear from both parties about the issues you raised. The judge may decide the Request to Dissolve has no merit and deny it without a hearing. Then the long-term protective order remains in effect.