If you are a victim and your abuser has a gun or you feel unsafe for other reasons, it is important to work with a victim advocate. The following organizations can help you find an advocate free of charge:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233);
- The Alabama Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 650-6522;
- VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846;
- Any of the local domestic violence programs listed here.
It is also helpful to have a lawyer assist you, particularly when you are seeking a Protection from Abuse Act order. You can find a lawyer using the Alabama Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact Legal Services Alabama at (866) 456-4995.
How to Get Protection
What kind of Protection from Abuse Act orders are available in Alabama?
Alabama courts can issue two types of domestic violence protection from abuse orders. In each of these orders, the court can help protect you from gun violence or threats of gun violence by an intimate partner:
- Ex parte Protection from Abuse Act orders1*
- (Final) Protection from Abuse Act orders2*
Courts can order whatever relief* they believe is necessary to protect you,3 including requiring the defendant* to get rid of his/her/their guns and prohibiting them from getting new ones. Alabama law also automatically prohibits some defendants subject to (final) Protection from Abuse Act orders from possessing *firearms.4
How can you get a Protection from Abuse Act order?
Click here to see if you are eligible for a Protection from Abuse Act order in Alabama.
You can find out more about how to get protection at WomensLaw.org.
You can find your local court here.
Court forms can be found here.
What do I do if I do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but I still need protection from someone?
If you do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but need protection from someone (including a stranger, an acquaintance, or another person not covered under a domestic violence protection order), you might qualify for some other type of order. Contact VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846 or a lawyer for more information. You can find a lawyer using the Alabama Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact Legal Services Alabama at (866) 456-4995.
How can the court help protect you?
Alabama law says that if you are married, separated, or divorced from the defendant*, live or have lived with the defendant, or have children together, the defendant is prohibited from possessing firearms once the court issues a (final) Protection from Abuse Act order.5
Alabama courts can also order whatever relief* they believe is necessary to protect you – this means that if your case is not fully covered under the law cited above, a court can still protect you from gun violence.6 Some of the things a court can order include:
- Requiring the defendant to turn over his/her/their firearms to local law enforcement immediately;
- Prohibiting the defendant from purchasing or possessing* firearms while the order is in effect;
- Ordering law enforcement to retrieve the defendant’s firearms if the defendant does not turn them in as ordered by the court;
- Requiring the defendant to appear before the court to self-report turning over their firearms as ordered;
- Directing law enforcement to follow up with the defendant to make sure the defendant turned over their guns as ordered;
- Scheduling a follow up compliance hearing* to ensure that the defendant has not accessed additional firearms since the order was issued;
- Ordering law enforcement to go to your home at scheduled times to check in on your safety;
- Ordering the defendant to stay away from you, your children, your family, and anyone else in immediate danger, based on the threats and/or actions of the defendant;
- Ordering the defendant not to hurt you or threaten to hurt you in the future;
- Anything else you need to be safe.
How will the court know what you need to protect you from the defendant’s firearms violence?
In your petition* and during any of the hearings* you participate in when you are seeking protection, you will have the opportunity to tell the court about the defendant’s* threats or acts of abuse, especially ones involving firearms. Every situation is different, and it is important to talk to a lawyer about your specific situation. You can find a lawyer using the Alabama Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact Legal Services Alabama at (866) 456-4995.
Your story will help the court decide what relief* to give you. Whether you are filling out court forms or speaking directly to the court, it is important to tell the court about the violence you experienced (working with your lawyer, if you have one), especially if the defendant used or threatened to use a firearm against you, a member of your family, any member of the community, or your pet. Among other things, this may include telling the court:
- About incidents of physical violence or threats of physical violence and include dates wherever you can;
- How the defendant used firearms to hurt or threaten you, your family, your pet(s), or anyone in the community;
- If you fear that the defendant may use firearms violence or threats of firearms violence in the future;
- If the defendant has threatened to harm him/her/themself. This may be a sign that the defendant intends to use a dangerous weapon like a firearm against you, themself, or other people;
- If you can, the type(s), number, and location of firearms the defendant has access to.