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Enforcement of Protective Orders

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2002
7 pages
Publication Series
This report is an overview of State laws and current issues related to the enforcement of protective orders.
The restriction or prohibition of an individual's behavior in order to protect another individual is referred to as a "restraining order," "injunction," or "protective order." These orders are typically associated with domestic violence. The advocating for their use by State legislatures was to restrict stalking, prevent abuse of the elderly or disabled and children, and protect crime victims and witnesses. Protective orders have been extended to include unlawful violence or threats to an employee in the workplace. The enforcement of protective orders is imperative for their effectiveness in encouraging compliance. All States have enacted laws authorizing protective orders. However, the enforcement tools utilized vary from State to State. Mechanisms used to enforce protective orders include: (1) the imposition of criminal sanctions; (2) the development and implementation of a computer-based protective order verification system, such as the Massachusetts Registry of Civil Restraining Orders; and (3) the passage of full faith and credit provisions of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) requiring States to recognize orders issued in another State or jurisdiction. Additional issues discussed include: (1) the inclusion of civil restraining and abuse prevention orders in all National Crime Information Center databases as authorized under the National Stalker and Domestic Violence Reduction Act; (2) the consolidation of procedures for application to all types of orders; and (3) the streamlining of protective order renewal requirements.

Date Published: January 1, 2002