Temporary Restraining Order
Criteria for obtaining a Domestic Violence Restraining Order
To obtain a domestic violence restraining order you must fulfill both of the following criteria:
- An Act Of Domestic Violence Must Have Occurred.
Any of the acts described below would fulfill this requirement.
- Emotional/Verbal Abuse: may include threats, name-calling, words that hurt or humiliate, harassment, isolation, or stalking.
- Physical Abuse: May include slapping, kicking, shaking, punching, choking, beating, or any other bodily injury.
- Sexual Abuse: may include unwanted acts, touching, forcing an adult or child to engage in sexual acts again his or her will (even if this is done by your husband or wife). Sexual abuse includes rape or incest.
- Economic/Property Abuse: may include making you financially dependent by controlling your money, destroying your property, stealing your property, or harming your pets.
- The Domestic Violence Was Committed By Any Of The Following People.
- Your former or present partner
- Your blood or marriage relative
- A past or present member of your household
- The mother/father of your child
- A person who is, or has been, in a sexual or otherwise intimate relationship with you
What is a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)?
A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) protects you from the time you request it until the time of the permanent restraining order (PRO) hearing, which is required by law to occur within ten (10) days.
What you need to do to get a TRO
- Go the Family Division of the Territorial Court to request a TRO. Try to take somebody with you or call the Women Coalition on St. Croix, the Family Resource Center on St. Thomas, or the Safety Zone on St. John for assistance. (telephone numbers listed below).
- Explain to the Family Law Clerk why you need protection. You and the Clerk will fill our the form requesting an order of protection. Be as complete and detailed as possible.
- You can request that the judge order any or all of the following in your TRO:
- Prohibit your abuser from committing domestic violence against you;
- Order your abuser to leave your residence and prohibit your abuser from having any contact with you;
- Grant you temporary possession of your residence;
- Grant you temporary child custody and child support;
- Order your abuser to receive counseling and pay your medical expenses.
- If the judge feels you need protection you will be given a TRO or PRO hearing date.
- Certain violations of the TRO are a crime. Keep a copy of your TRO with you at all times. Call the police if your abuser violates any part of the TRO.
What is a Permanent Restraining Order (PRO)?
A Permanent Restraining Order (PRO) provides protection to you for a period of two years. A PRO can only be issued after a court hearing before a judge. Your abuser must receive notice of the hearing and be given an opportunity to be heard.
What you need to do to get a PRO
- Call the Women’s Coalition on St. Croix, the Family Resource Center on St. Thomas, the Safety Zone on St. John or Legal Services (telephone numbers listed below) if you have any questions before your hearing.
- Gather together any evidence of abuse. These items are not mandatory, but will help substantiate your request for a PRO: police reports; hospital records; photographs of bruises and injuries, ripped clothing; damaged property.
- Try to persuade any persons who witnessed the abuse to come with you for the hearing.
- Write down a description of the abuse and what you want the judge to do about the abuse. You can use your written notes when you testify in court.
- Go to the Court at least 15 minutes before the scheduled hearing time. You may bring an adult with you for support. Avoid contact with our abuser at the courthouse and tell a marshal at the courthouse if your abuser is harassing you.
- Look for the Women’s Coalition advocate at court. The advocate is available to answer questions you may have about the legal process, and provide moral support.
- Certain violations of PROs are criminal offenses. It is a crime for your abuser to violate your PRO by assaulting you; contacting you; or harassing you, your friends or your relatives. If your abuser violates the PRO in any of these ways, you should call the police. If your abuser violates parts of the order, such as failing to pay child support you should go to the Family Division of the Territorial Court and file a complaint asking your abuser to be found in contempt of court.
Through the Violence Against Women Act, a federal law that helps protect victims of domestic violence from their abusive spouse or intimate partner, you can get additional protection that will help make you more safe.
If you know your abuser owns a firearm, it is important that you tell a judge.
When you ask the judge for a restraining order, you can also ask that your abuser not be allowed to purchase, receive, or possess a firearm.
If the judge finds that your abuser is a police officer, the judge cannot prohibit the possession of their police-issued weapon, but personal weapons can be prohibited.
Enforcement of PRO’s in the United States
- If you must travel outside of the Virgin Islands to another state to get away from your abuser, take your PRO with you; it is valid everywhere in the United States.
- Notify the police in your new state that you have a restraining order from a different jurisdiction.
- You may also want to register your restraining order with the court in your new location.
- Restraining orders from other states are valid in the Virgin Islands as long as your abuser received notice of the order and was given an opportunity to be heard by the court.
Where to call for Assistance
Women’s Coalition, St. Croix – available 24 hrs.
Se Habla EspaÃƒ±ol 773-9272
Family Resource Center, St. Thomas – available 24 hrs. 776-3966
Victims Advocate Program, St. Thomas 775-6103
Safety Zone, St. John – available 24 hrs. 690-SAFE (7233)
Territorial Court of the V.I. – St. Croix 778-9750
Territorial Court of the V.I. – St. Thomas-St. John 774-6680/776-6323
Legal Services – St. Croix 773-2626
Legal Services – St. Thomas-St. John 774-6720