Protective Order

Protective Orders are civil court orders meant to protect victims who have experienced or are reasonably in fear of physical violence, sexual assault or stalking by another individual. 


A Protection From Abuse Order is a court order issued based upon a petition filed under the Protection From Abuse Act (PFA) which provides for limited protection for persons who have been threatened, harassed, or physically abuse by a spouse, former spouse, common-law or former common-law spouse, parent, child, person with whom the you have a child in common, or a present or former household member.

Protection orders are orders issued by circuit courts to provide protection and relief to victims of domestic violence. Victims who need protection may go to the local circuit court and request a Petition for a Protection From Abuse Order from the circuit clerk. Victims may file this petition without costs and without assistance from an attorney. However, protection orders may involve long term legal consequences or safety issues so victims are strongly encouraged to contact a lawyer or a domestic violence advocate in their local area before filing for a Protection Order. Contact information may be found at the ACADV website, or by calling the Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-650-6522.


  • Order the victim's home or work address, the phone number, or other related information deleted from all records filed with the court concerning the Protection Order;
  • Restrain the defendant from committing or threatening to commit acts of abuse, or from harassing, annoying, telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating directly or indirectly with the victim or other designated persons;
  • Order the defendant to stay away from victim's residence and place of work or other designated places or persons;
  • Award the victim temporary custody of any minor children and restrain the abuser from removing the children from the victim's custody;
  • Remove the defendant from the residence, regardless of who owns the residence;
  • Prohibit the defendant from selling, disposing, destroying, hiding, or mortgaging mutually owned or leased real estate or personal property.
  • Order other relief as necessary to provide the safety and protection of the victim.
  • A victim may request an emergency temporary protection order if needed. Otherwise a final protection, if granted, is valid for one year or until the court determined expiration date.

This project was supported by Grant No. 2002 WE-AR-001 awarded by the Violence Against Women Office, Office of Justice Programs, and U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S Department of Justice



Orders issued by Alabama Courts are enforceable under Alabama law. A willful violation of a protection order is a Class A misdemeanor and the officer may arrest without a warrant when there is probable cause that the defendant has violated a valid protection order. Victims should immediately contact local law enforcement if their order is violated.


Under the federal Violence Against Women Act and Alabama law, valid protection orders should be given full faith and credit. This means that if a protection order is issued in another state and the victim is in Alabama, Alabama will enforce the valid protection order. Violations of valid protection orders from other states are enforced as if the order were issued by an Alabama court. Law enforcement may arrest without a warrant for any violation of the valid protection order and the punishment upon conviction is a Class A misdemeanor.


Protection Orders are valid if:

  • the order includes the names of the parties;
  • the order contains the date the order was issued;
  • the order is not expired;
  • the order contains the name of the issuing court;
  • the order is signed by a judicial officer;
  • the order contains specific terms and
  • the defendant has had notice of the order and an opportunity to be heard.


Victims may register their out-of-state protection orders by taking a certified copy of the order to their local circuit clerk's office and requesting that the order be entered into the Alabama Protection Order Database. This is NOT a requirement for enforcement. However, victims should always keep a copy of their protection order with them at ALL times to prove the existence of the order if the defendant violates it. Victims may also choose to give copies of the protection order to their local city police and sheriff departments.


If you need assistance with obtaining a protection order you may contact Rape Response, or the University Police Department.

Getting Your Protective Order

You will need to go to court to get a PPO or PO. You do not have to press charges to get a protective order. This is not a criminal matter.

Important things to say when testifying or making a statement in court:

  • Be very specific in your details when describing the stalking or abuse, including date(s), time(s) of day and other details. If you use the tracking form from this website, this will help in keeping accurate notes.
  • Describe exactly what the stalker/abuser said and did to you, and make it clear that you are afraid and for what reason(s).
  • Describe any injuries to you or anyone else, and any property damage caused by the abuser/stalker (including injuries to any pets, destruction to valued objects, etc.)
  • Show the judge or magistrate any pictures of injuries or property damage.
  • For your Protective Order hearing, have any witnesses testify to the abuse, stalking, injuries, or property damage.

General Information You Should Know

It is very important to keep a copy of the protective order with you at all times. Keep copies of any of the batterer's criminal convictions. Show these to the police officer, magistrate, prosecutor, or judge if he/she violates the order.

It isn't necessary for the abuser to be charged or arrested for any crime for a survivor to request a protective order. If you have questions about protective orders and how to request one, contact Rape Response, or the University Police Department.

Once the protective order has been issued:

  • Remember that a protective order is a piece of paper that must be respected by the stalker/abuser to be effective. It is also only enforceable after a sheriff's deputy or police officer has served it on the stalker/abuser. After it has been served, if you feel you are in danger, or if the abuser/stalker does not comply with it, call the police immediately (911). If they arrive in time to witness the abuser's violation of the order, they can make an immediate arrest. If not, you may need to get a criminal warrant from the magistrate.
  • When you get your copy of the order, make sure it says exactly what you want. If there are errors, it is unclear, it has not been signed, or boxes don't appear to be checked, ask the bailiff or your advocate for help.
  • Keep a copy with you at all times. This is important if the abuser/stalker violates the order and you must call the police or seek help from other authorities.
  • Give a copy to the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs (if you are a student), your CA/RA (if you live on University Grounds) and your supervisor at work if you are employed.
  • If children are included, make sure anyone responsible for them has a copy.
  • If you are planning to or are considering leaving the state, make sure you get a certified copy of your order from the clerk's office. Federal law requires recognition of one state's protective order by others.