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;
- VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846;
- The Maine Domestic Abuse Helpline at (866) 437-4357;
- 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 order. You can find a lawyer using the Maine State Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from Pinetree Legal Aid and on the Maine Judicial Branch website.
How to Get Protection
What kind of protection from abuse orders are available in
Maine courts can issue two types of protection from abuse orders. In both of these orders, the court can help protect you from gun violence or threats of gun violence by an intimate partner:
- Temporary protection from abuse orders1*
- (Final) protection from abuse orders2*
Courts in Maine can prohibit defendant’s* subject to temporary protection from abuse orders and (final) protection from abuse orders from possessing* firearms.3 If a defendant is prohibited from possessing firearms, he/she/they must get rid of their guns within 24 hours or a timeframe decided by the court.4 Maine law also automatically prohibits some defendants subject to (final) protection from abuse orders from possessing firearms.
How can you get a protection from abuse order?
Click here to see if you are eligible for a protection from abuse order in Maine.
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 Maine State Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from Pinetree Legal Aid and on the Maine Judicial Branch website.
How can the court help protect you?
Maine 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 automatically prohibited from possessing* firearms once the court issues a (final) protection from abuse order.5
In some cases, courts can also prohibit a defendant subject to a temporary protection from abuse order or (final) protection from abuse order from possessing firearms.6 If the court prohibits the defendant from possessing firearms, the court will:
- Order defendant to get rid of his/her/their firearms within 24 hours or a timeframe determined by the court by:
- Giving them to law enforcement;
- Giving them to a third party specified in the protection order.7
- If the order allows the defendant to turn over the firearms to someone who is not law enforcement, defendant must file a statement within 24 hours with the court or law enforcement. The statement must:
- Identify the person to whom defendant gave the items; and
- List all items given to that person.8
In a (final) protection from abuse order, a court can also order any other relief* it believes is necessary to protect you.9 Some of the things the court can order include:
- Requiring the defendant to turn over firearms to local law enforcement immediately;
- Prohibiting the defendant from purchasing firearms;
- Ordering law enforcement to retrieve the defendant’s firearms if the defendant does not turn them in as required by the court*;
- Requiring the respondent to appear before the court to self-report turning over their firearms as ordered;
- Directing law enforcement to follow up with the respondent to make sure the respondent 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 Maine State Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from Pinetree Legal Aid and on the Maine Judicial Branch website.
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 a 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 himself/herself/themselves. This may be a sign that the defendant intends to use a dangerous weapon like a firearm against you, themselves, or other people;
- If you can, the type(s), number, and location of firearms the defendant has access to.