Protection Orders Against Domestic Violence
What is a protection order against domestic violence and why would I want one?
A protection order against domestic violence (protection order) is a court order that protects one person from being abused by another person. You would want one to protect yourself and your children who live with you from violence or threats of violence.
Who can I get a protection order against?
The court can issue a protection order against your abuser if:
- you are or were married to each other
- you are not married to each other but are or were related to each other by blood or marriage (for example, cousin, brother-in-law, brother)
- you are the parents of one or more children
- you are not related but currently or formerly were members of the same household
- you are or were in a dating relationship.
If my relationship with my abuser does not fit into any of these categories, what can I do?
You may be able to file in Justice Court for a Civil Stalking and Harassment Order (this manual does not describe this type of an order, but you may get information from the Justice Court website at or by visiting the Justice Court Clerkâs office at the Clark County Courthouse, 2nd Floor, 200 South Third Street, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101, Mailing Address: PO Box 552511, Las Vegas, Nevada 89155-2511, telephone: (702) 455-4435 or Toll Free Long Distance 1-(877) 455-1289.
Do I have to be hit to get a protection order?
Not necessarily. If your abuser tried to hit you or pushed you, or if you were afraid because your abuser threatened to hit you, threw something at you or physically threatened you in some other way, that could count as abuse, too. The law says you were abused if someone attempted to cause you physical harm, actually caused you physical harm, placed you in fear of imminent serious physical harm, or caused you to engage in sexual relations by force, threat of force, or duress.
Where do I get a protection order?
During regular business hours Monday through Friday, you can get a protection order by applying at the Family Violence Intervention Office at Family Court, located at 601 N. Pecos Rd., Las Vegas, Nevada (702) 455-3400. (You may also be able to get a temporary order in your local Justice Court, if you live outside the City of Las Vegas.)
How do I get a protection order if the courts are closed?
If your abuser was arrested by the police for battery, domestic violence, at night, on the weekend, or on a holiday, the police will give you a hotline number where you can get help an Emergency Protection Order from a judge on call. This order is good for up to 7 days, until a hearing is held where you can ask to extend it for up to one year. The advocate at the hotline number will tell you when and where you must go to have your emergency order extended.
How will a protection order help me?
Some things that the court can order to help protect you include:
- ordering your abuser to stop threatening, hurting or abusing you
- ordering your abuser not to contact you
- ordering your abuser to stay away (100 yards) from your home or apartment building, or other places you request, such as your work place, your school, day care, etc.
- if your abuser lives with you, ordering him to move out of the home and turn over all keys in his possession
- awarding you temporary custody of your children
- ordering temporary support for you and your children
- ordering your abuser to stay away, not to contact, and to stop abusing your children
- ordering your abuser to pay you for any losses you suffered as a direct result of the abuse, such as lost wages, medical bills, broken locks, changing locks, personal property, etc.
- ordering your abuser not to turn off any utilities that are in his name, or to turn them back on if he has already turned them off
- ordering your abuser to surrender his firearms license and any guns or weapons to the police
- ordering your abuser to turn over a family car and all spare keys over to you
- ordering your abuser to pick up his personal belongings only with a police escort, or giving you a police escort if you need to pick up your things
- recommending that your abuser attend a batterer's intervention program (this is more likely to happen in a criminal case than in the protective order hearing, but it is possible)
- ordering your abuser to turn over medications, personal items or documents that you need to remain independent and
- other reasonable requests.
Will these things really help?
They might. A protection order cannot ward off bullets or fend off punches but it is a court order and the police will enforce it. You know your abuser best, and know if he is likely to violate the order. If he violates the order, the police could arrest him, because the violation of a protection order against domestic violence is a crime. Always keep in mind, however, that a protection order is just part of your overall safety plan.
If I get a protection order in one town, but then move somewhere else in Nevada, am I still protected?
Your protection order is valid throughout Nevada no matter which court issues the order. Information on protection orders issued in Nevada is entered into a statewide computer database, accessible to courts and law enforcement throughout the state. You should take a copy of your protection order to the police department where you now live, as well as to your workplace and your children's schools or day care. You should also keep a copy of your protection order with you at all times.
What if I move out of state?
When Congress passed the "Violence Against Women Act," it intended to require all states to enforce protection orders issued in another state. Though this Act made things better, this might not be as easy as it sounds. If you know you will be leaving Nevada, and you have a protective order issued in Nevada, you may want to call a domestic violence program in the state where you are moving to find out how that state treats out-of-state orders. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE to get more information.
What is the difference between criminal charges and a protection order?
Criminal charges, such as battery domestic violence, assault or stalking, are charges filed by a prosecutor against your abuser for breaking the law. If your abuser is found guilty, he can be sent to jail or prison, and/or be fined. The amount of the fine and/or the length of any jail or prison sentence depend on a number of factors, including what crime he is found guilty of and his past criminal record. For instance, he could be sentenced to probation, he could be sentenced to jail but released because of credit for time already served, or he could be sentenced to jail. His sentence may also include mandatory attendance at a batterer's intervention program.
Unlike criminal charges, a protection order is a civil action filed by the abused person against her abuser. If the court issues a protection order against the abuser, the abuser is not arrested, fined or sent to jail. Instead, the court orders him to do or not to do certain acts. However, it will be a criminal offense if he violates the protection order.
Do I have to file a police report in order to get a protection order?
No. You can ask the court for protection even if you have not filed a police report against your abuser.
If there are already criminal charges against my abuser, can I still get a protection order?
How do I get a protection order?
Go to the Family Violence Intervention Program office (TPO Office), located on the first floor of the Family Court building at 601 N. Pecos, Las Vegas, NV (corner of Pecos and Bonanza streets). An advocate in that office will give you the forms you need to complete in order to apply for a protection order, including:
- Affidavit and Application for a Temporary and/or Extended Protection Order Against Domestic Violence: This is a "fill in the blank" form that is several pages long and includes a page where you must explain in your own words why you want the order. You need to write a brief, but clear statement of what happened and why you are afraid it will happen again unless a protection order is granted. Describe events specifically - not "he threatened me," but rather the specific words he said or things he did. You should describe the most recent abusive thing that happened, and you should also explain if this has happened before. You must also disclose any other current or past custody case or Child Protective Services proceeding involving you, your abuser and any children you have in common.
- Applicant Information Form. Even if you want your address to be confidential, you must put your address on this form for the court's information. It will be kept in a separate, confidential file and neither your abuser nor his attorney will be able to see it.
- Adverse Party Information Form. This is a form where you fill in information about your abuser (called the adverse party). The court uses it to look up the abuser's criminal record. The Clark County Sheriff uses the information to locate your abuser to serve him a copy of the protection order and notices of hearings.
- Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) form: If you have children with your abuser and you are asking the court to give you temporary custody of them, you must complete this form.
- Financial Statement For Use In Domestic Violence Cases: If you have children with your abuser and you are asking the court to award you child support, you must complete this form.
You can also download the forms, without charge, and complete them at your leisure (or with the assistance of a domestic violence advocate, and bring them to the TPO office any day, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (although it is best to arrive before 2:00 p.m.). www.co.clark.nv.us/district_court/family_violence_intervention_/index.html However, your signature on the Application must be notarized before it will be accepted for filing by the Court.
Will there be someone who can help me with this paperwork?
The TPO Office has advocates who can assist you in completing the forms. In addition, Safe Nest and SAFE House (domestic violence agencies) have advocates who can help you complete the forms, explain what is likely to happen in court at your hearing, and even accompany you to the hearing. (Note, these advocates are not court employees, and they usually are not lawyers either, so they cannot actually speak for you in court.) In certain limited circumstances it may be possible to get a lawyer to appear with you or to advise you, free of charge. Ask the advocates in the TPO office for the printed information on the Clark County Legal Services program for low income, victims of domestic violence, or call Clark County Legal Services at (702) 386-1070, extension 148 and leave your name, your abuserâs name and a telephone number where you can be reached.
Can I apply for a protection order and still keep my new home address a secret?
Yes. You can ask the court to keep your address confidential. Do not put your address on the Application; instead, check the box that indicates you want your address to be kept "confidential." There is a separate form (Applicant Information) where you must write down your mailing address so the court will know how to contact you. It will be kept in a different file from the court file so neither your abuser nor his lawyer will be able to see it. Even with these precautions, you should remember to be careful (especially going to and from Family Court), since there are many other ways your abuser can find out where you are living.
How do I ask for temporary custody and child support orders from the judge?
You must check the appropriate boxes on the Application and complete a Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act and a Financial Statement For Use In Domestic Violence Cases form; these forms are available at the TPO Office. Unless you request otherwise, any such order will be effective for 60 days (if you have a divorce or other family court action already pending) or for the term of the protection order (no more then one year). To get a permanent order of support, you may ask the Clark County District Attorney Family Support Division (DAFS) to get permanent support order for you.
What do I do after I have filled out the forms?
Once you have completed your forms, the advocate at the front desk of the TPO Office will take them from you. Another advocate will review them and speak with you, to ensure that you have completed the forms correctly. Your forms must be filed at the Clerkâs office and a TPO Hearing Commissioner will review your Application. The Commission can grant the protection order, deny your application, or require a hearing before granting or denying your application.
How will I know if my application for a protection order was granted?
It can take up to 2 days for the Hearing Commissioners to issue a decision (although usually applications that are completed before 2 p.m. can be reviewed and granted or denied that same day). You can call the TPO Office at (702) 455-3400, and ask them whether your application was granted.
How do I get a copy of my protection order?
If your application is granted, the TPO office can mail your protection order to you (this is why you must include your confidential home address on the Applicant Information Sheet and why you should give them a self-addressed envelope). You can also come to the TPO Office to pick up your copy of the protection order.
How long will my protection order remain in effect?
You will want to keep a copy of your protection order with you at all times. You may also want to keep additional copies in other places, like your workplace, your car, with your babysitter, your children's doctors, your friend's house, your children's schools, your parent's house, etc. If you lose your order, you need to go back to the court that issued the order and ask them for another copy. An Emergency Protection Order remains in effect for 7 days or until the date of the hearing on your request to extend the order. A Temporary Protection Order will remain in effect for thirty days, or until the hearing on your request to extend the order. An Extended Protection Order may remain in effect for up to one year.
Once I get my copy of the protection order, does this mean the order is in effect?
Not yet. The next step is to have your abuser served with the order. The Clark County Sheriff will try to serve your abuser with a copy of the Temporary Protection Order and the Notice of Hearing (setting out the date of the hearing where you can ask that your protection order be extended for up to 1 year). There is no charge for this service. You should not assume the order is in effect until the TPO Office confirms that the Sheriff has "served" him with the protection order. If your abuser lives with you, the Sheriff may come to your home to serve him and wait while he leaves.
If I have my Temporary Protection Order, why do I have to come back to court so soon for another hearing?
You must return to court on the day the judge set for the hearing to extend the protection order or else it will end ("expire") 30 days from the day it is issued. This is because your abuser has to be given a chance to tell his side of the story to the judge before being subjected to a longer protection order.
What happens at the hearing if my abuser was not served a copy of the order?
If your abuser was not served a copy of the order, the judge will postpone the hearing for another 30 or so days to give you more time to get him served, extending the order you have now until the date of that next hearing.
What happens if my abuser does not show up at the hearing?
If your abuser received "notice" of the hearing (that is, was served with the papers), the hearing will for forward whether he attends or not. If he does not appear, the judge may extend your protection order for up to one year, if you requested this. The judge may ask you a few questions about what happened and why you need the order, or what you would like on the extended protective order. Be prepared to explain what happened again, just in case.
What happens at the hearing if my abuser comes to court?
If your abuser has been served with a copy of your protection order, you should expect he will be in court at the hearing, and that he will have had an opportunity to read your application. However, he does not have the right to talk to you in court. If you are concerned for your safety, come to the TPO Office before your scheduled hearing time. You may be able to wait there. Otherwise, let the court Clerk or bailiff know if you are worried that the Adverse Party will contact you in the courtroom or hallway. If you can, bring someone with you to court, for support: a friend, a family member, or an advocate from Safe Nest, SAFE House or one of the other domestic violence agencies. If your abuser threatens or harasses you while you are waiting in court, tell the bailiff immediately (the bailiff is the man or woman in uniform in the courtroom).
The judge will allow both of you to testify about why the protection order should or should not be extended. The judge will usually have you both stand up and be "sworn" to tell the truth. If you have medical records, police reports, photos, objects or clothing that your abuser broke or tore, witnesses, or any other documents you think would help the judge in making a decision, be sure to bring them with you that day. See the Appendix to this Section for more information on the hearing.
What will the judge do after we have both testified?
In some cases, the judge may decide not to extend a protection order. If this happens to you, and you still feel that you should have a protection order, you should talk to a domestic violence advocate about what you can do to appeal the judge's decision. In most cases of abuse, the judge will extend the protection order and grant other reasonable requests (child support, visitation, etc). You can tell the judge how long you would like the order to stay in effect. The judge will extend the protection order for a set period of time, up to one year.
See the Appendix to this Section for more information on the hearing.
What happens when the protection order expires?
Once the protection order expires, another protection order will be granted only if there are new incidents of domestic violence.
Can't I get a permanent protective order?
No. Nevada law makes no provision for a permanent protection order. By statute, protection orders against domestic violence are limited to 1 year in duration. Sometimes a judge will include a "stay-away" order in a divorce decree or other order, however, violations of stay-away orders are not prosecuted as a crime and the police will not arrest the abuser for violating the order. You have to bring a motion before the judge who issued the stay-away order, for an Order To Show Cause why your abuser should not be held in contempt of court for failing to obey the stay-away order.
What happens if my abuser violates the protection order?
Violation of a protection order is a criminal misdemeanor. The part of the protection order stating "no contact" means your abuser is not allowed to communicate with you in person, through other people, by letters, phone calls, gifts or in any other way. If he tries to contact you in any of these ways, he has violated your protection order. You can call the police and report the violation. If the police witness the violation or have probable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, they must arrest him. If the police are not involved or do not arrest him or file a criminal complaint against him, you can still go to Family Court and file for an Order to Show Cause why he should not be held in contempt of court for violating your protection order.
Will I have to go to court if I report the violation to the police?
If the prosecutor decides to charge your abuser with a crime, you may be required to testify at his trial. (See Section 4 of this manual for more information on the criminal system.)
If I let him back in the house, or go to see him, or get back together with him, will I be violating the protection order?
You cannot violate the protection order. The protection order is an order directing that your abuser do or not do certain things and only your abuser can violate these orders. If he is ordered not to contact you and you call him or if he is ordered to stay away from you and you invite him over and he comes, he is violating the order prohibiting him from contacting you. However if you "invite" him to violate the order, do not be surprised if the court and the police are less than sympathetic if you complain about his violations of the order. Also, your abuser may use your conduct to ask the court to terminate or "dissolve" your protection order.
What should I do if we are going to get back together?
If you intend to get back together with your abuser, you should file a motion to dissolve the protection order. You can have your protection order dissolved at any time before it expires, by going to the TPO Office at Family Court during regular court business hours and filing a motion to dissolve your protection order. You might want to do this in cases where you have reconciled with your abuser or, in certain circumstances, you may feel you are at greater risk if you keep the protection order in effect, perhaps because your abuser has threatened to harm you even more if you do not drop it. You can also ask that the stay away and no contact portions be dropped, but still keep the portion of the order that order him to "refrain from abuse" in effect. You may want to do this for many reasons, such as to be able to see and speak to each other about the children, but you still want your abuser to keep from abusing you.
What do I do if my abuser tries to take out a protection order against me?
Many times abusers will apply for protection orders against their victims. If this happens to you, you should seek assistance from a domestic violence advocate or an attorney. The courts know that such "mutual protection orders" generally are not desirable, and the judge will exercise caution in granting protection orders to both parties. If you get served with a protection order, you should take it very seriously. You should go to the hearing, no matter what anyone tells you. If you fail to go to the hearing, the court may issue a protection order against you in your absence. You do not want that to happen, for many reasons.
- Your abuser may lie about violations in order to try to get you charged with a criminal violation of the TPO
- If your abuser gets an order against you, it allows him to divert attention away from his own abusive behavior. This makes it seem that the domestic violence was mutual, that he was justified in his actions against you, and allows you to be blamed for things that were not your fault.
- If he is given a protection order against you, the police can become confused and unable to enforce either protection order or determine which party should be arrested for violating a protection order.
- It allows your abuser to use a system developed to help you, to victimize you further.
What can I do to try to prevent a protection order from issuing against me?
You should try to get a domestic violence advocate or an attorney to assist you in this hearing, but that might not always be possible. If you have to defend yourself without an advocate or attorney, there are a number of things you should tell the judge:
If you are the true victim of domestic violence, support this claim by telling the judge about the prior abuse, past injuries, medical records, police interventions, witnesses, etc.
If you think your abuser is only trying to get a protection order to retaliate against you and not because he fears you, explain this to the judge... (you left him, you have an order out against him, he is trying to get custody, you have a new boyfriend, his buddies told him to, whatever you think his motives are for doing this).
If you never physically harmed or threatened to harm your abuser, say so.
Before you go into the courtroom, you should read the "Application/Affidavit" that your abuser filled out to apply for a protection order. (You should have been served with a copy; if not, you can get it from the TPO Office.) If it contains statements that are untrue, tell the judge which ones are not true and what the truth is regarding those matters.
What do I do if my abuser calls the police about me?
Sometimes, abusers try to "get revenge" by reporting their victims to the police or other agencies. You should take this very seriously. If you find you are a defendant in a criminal action, you should have an attorney to represent you. If you cannot afford one, the court should appoint one for you if jail time is possible. Make sure you tell your lawyer the history of domestic violence and that you are the true victim here. Each prosecutor's office has different ways of dealing with these "retaliatory" cases. In some cases, the prosecutor may know the history of your case and may be skeptical of the claims your abuser has brought against you. If all goes well, the prosecutor may drop the charges against you, but do not assume this will happen. (See Section 4 of this manual for more information.)
What things am I allowed to take if I leave my abuser?
If you and your children are on your own, you are going to need furniture, beds, clothes, a car, and money. One of the reasons victims find it hard to leave their abusers is because the thought of moving with their children into an empty apartment with no household belongings is distressing. This is especially true if any money the victim has saved or borrowed has been used to pay the first and last month's rent. Having your ordinary household things around may help you feel safe and independent. For low and middle income people, household furniture and cars are often all we have. They are important and necessary belongings. Take with you what you think is yours and the children's. If he disagrees with what you have done, he can take you to court and explain to the judge why the children should not have their beds. In deciding what to take, you may have to make some practical decisions. Do you have somewhere to put the furniture? Do you have a way of moving it? Are you taking the children with you, and if so, what do they need? When thinking about what you need, be reasonable. It is important to consider what a court would think of your actions if the division of your personal property becomes an issue in a court case later on.
If I get a protection order that orders my abuser to leave our house, what can he take with him?
If the protection order says so, the abuser can come with a police escort and take his personal belongings (clothes, identification, etc.). He is not allowed to pull up with a truck and empty the apartment. It is unlikely the police would let him try to do this. However, if the abuser starts trying to pack pieces of furniture into his car, then take out the protection order and show the police officer that the order says the abuser can take his personal belongings only, and that doesn't mean the VCR, the stereo, and the children's videos. If you want your abuser to have the living room furniture, pack it up and let a mutual friend or relative know when they can pick it up for him.
What about our joint bank accounts?
The most common types of bank accounts couples have are joint savings accounts, joint checking accounts, and individual checking accounts and individual savings accounts. The money in joint accounts belongs to both of you. On a joint bank account, the bank will allow either party listed on the account to withdraw all of the money in that account. If you are leaving and you need to pay first and last month's rent on an apartment, or pay the mortgage, you and your children will likely need that money to survive. You should take steps to protect money in joint accounts or at least withdraw enough to satisfy your immediate survival needs. Sometimes, the first place an abuser goes after being served with a protection order, is the bank. If you and your abuser are not married, generally, the money in individual accounts belongs only to the person whose name is on the account.
What about individual bank accounts if my abuser and I are married?
If you and your abuser are married, with certain limited exceptions, all property acquired while you are married - bank accounts, cars, houses - belongs to the two of you together, no matter whose name it is in. It is "community property," and can be divided up by the Family Court. Unfortunately, it can take a long time for the Family Court to make a final order about community property, including bank accounts. Money in a bank account can be spent or hidden in a day. Once the money is spent, you and your children are probably not going to see any of it again. To prevent losing the money, you can get a Joint Preliminary Injunction from the Family Court in a divorce or custody case. The injunction orders both parties to maintain the status quo - in other words, neither of you can spend such "community" funds until it is divided up fairly by the court.
What about tax refunds?
If you are married to your abuser, income tax refunds are generally community property. You can ask the judge who issues the protection order to order your abuser not to spend the refund for a month, or hand it over to a third party, until you can find a lawyer and get an injunction from a Family Court judge.
Is it wrong for me to try to get some financial support?
No. If the children are with you, the court will expect you to look out for their interests. A careful mother and a sensible person would try to get financial support for herself and her children. You and your children deserve a chance to make it on your own, and that means having some financial support. All that having been said, you should make your own decision about what to do about money and property - your safety and the safety of your children are the most important things and if getting financial support puts you at risk, you may decide not to ask for it.
The car is in my abuser's name, and he pays the insurance bills. What am I going to do for transportation?
If you are married to your abuser and he purchased the car during your marriage, it is likely that the car is community property, no matter whose name it is in. If you get a protection order, you can ask the judge to order your husband to turn over the car and the keys to you. You are more likely to get an order for the car if you have to drive the children to school, day care, etc. or if there is some other good reason you need the car. If trying to get the car is going to put you at risk, you might not want to do it. Also, if taking the car will mean your abuser cannot commute to work, you may want to leave it with him so he can earn income and pay child support.
If you forget to ask the judge for the car (or for any other assistance that the court can grant in a protection order ö see question 8 in this Section) during the hearing to extend your protection order, you can file a motion to modify the protection order, to add the car to the order. The TPO office has the form you need to fill out to ask for another hearing, to modify your protection order.
Note: If your abuser cancels the insurance, or stops paying the car loan, you will have to pay them yourself unless the judge has ordered him to continue those payments in the protection order.
If you qualify for TANF or other emergency services, you may be able to get bus tokens or other transportation assistance. See the Resource Section at the back of this manual.