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 New York State Domestic Violence 24-Hour Hotline at (800) 942-6906 or 711 for Deaf or Hard of Hearing;
- Any of the local domestic violence programs listed here;
- Safe Horizon for New York City residents at (800) 621-4673.
It is also helpful to have a lawyer assist you, particularly when you are seeking a domestic violence order of protection. You can find a lawyer using the New York State Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can find free- and low-cost legal assistance at Law Help NY.
How to Get Protection
What kind of domestic violence orders of protection are available in New York?
New York courts can issue two types of domestic violence orders of protection. In both of these orders, the court can help protect you from gun violence or threats of gun violence by an intimate partner:
- Temporary orders of protection1*
- (Final) orders of protection2*
New York courts can order whatever relief*they believe is necessary to protect you,3 including prohibiting the respondent* from purchasing or possessing* firearms and requiring them to turn over their firearms to law enforcement. Courts are required to order some respondents to surrender their firearms to law enforcement and to prohibit them from purchasing or possessing handguns.4
How can you get an order of protection?
Click here to see if you are eligible for an order of protection in New York.
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 New York State Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can find free- and low-cost legal assistance at Law Help NY.
How can the court help protect you?
In New York, courts must require respondents* to turn over their firearms to law enforcement and prohibit them from possessing* or purchasing* handguns in certain circumstances.5
Courts can also order whatever relief* they deem necessary to protect you.6 Some of the things the court can order include:
- Requiring the respondent to turn over his/her/their firearms to local law enforcement immediately;
- Prohibiting the respondent from purchasing or possessing firearms while the order is in effect;
- Ordering law enforcement to retrieve the respondent’s firearms if the respondent fails to turn them in as required by law or 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 respondent 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;
- If the guns are shared marital property, the court can order the sale of the guns and divide the money between you;
- Ordering the respondent to stay away from you, your children, your family, and anyone else in immediate danger, based on the threats and/or actions of the respondent;
- Ordering the respondent 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 respondent’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 respondent’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 New York State Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can find free- and low-cost legal assistance at Law Help NY.
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 for you to tell the court about the violence you experienced, especially if the respondent 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 respondent used firearms to hurt or threaten you, your family, your pet(s), or anyone in the community;
- If you fear that the respondent may use firearms violence or threats of firearms violence in the future;
- If the respondent has threatened to harm him/her/themself. This may be a sign that the respondent 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 respondent has access to.