Alaskan Domestic Abuse Protective Orders
Alaska has a reputation for high rates of domestic violence, especially in remote communities, which Internet search results quickly confirm. Much supporting data is available, as well as speculation about why this is true.
Alaskan Domestic Violence
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that more than 6,000 instances of Alaskan domestic violence were reported in 2005. Similarly, the state-funded Alaska Victimization Survey found:
- In the 2010 survey, 48 out of 100 women statewide reported having been victims of intimate partner violence or IPV sometime in their lives.
- In the 2011 survey, 42 out of 100 women in Anchorage reported having been victims of IPV sometime in their lives.
The survey defines IPV not only as actual violence, but also as threats of violence against intimate partners.
Alaska provides relief in the form of judge-issued protective orders to keep alleged perpetrators from having contact with their victims. Also sometimes called restraining orders, Alaskan protective orders have complex procedural requirements.
A “peace officer” may act for a domestic violence victim by asking for an emergency protective order. Such a request may be verbal or written, either in person or using phone contact with the judge. Normally an emergency order lasts only 72 hours.
A domestic crime victim may file for an “ex parte” protective order, meaning that only the complaining party is available to provide information to the judge. The idea behind an ex parte order is that a threat of domestic violence may be so dangerous that a judge can issue a protective order even without hearing the other side of the story if notice cannot be given to the alleged perpetrator. Ex parte orders normally last up to 20 days.
A longer protective order may be issued when proper notice can be given to the alleged perpetrator, called the respondent, after the victim files a petition. With adequate notice, the respondent has the opportunity to appear at a scheduled hearing. If the court finds by a preponderance of evidence that a crime of domestic violence occurred between the parties, the judge has a long list of possible restrictions to include.
For example, the judge may “prohibit the respondent from threatening to commit or committing domestic violence, stalking, or harassment …” This type of protective order remains in effect indefinitely until a later court order changes or rescinds it.
The Alaskan statute provides a list of 15 other prohibitions the judge may include in such an order. These prohibitions remain in effect for a year unless the court rescinds the order sooner. Examples include:
- A prohibition against calling, contact or communication with the victim
- An exclusion of the respondent from the victim’s home (even if the respondent owns it), work, school or other specific place where the victim or another household member goes
- A prohibition against entering the victim’s vehicle or any vehicle the victim is in
- A prohibition against gun possession or use if one was present or used in the original act of domestic violence
- A prohibition against using “controlled substances”
- And more
Protective orders are also available in conjunction with divorce proceedings.
Seek Legal Counsel
Because of the seriousness of the situation and the complexity of the laws and procedures, a victim of domestic violence in Alaska can seek advice about his or her rights and options from an experienced family lawyer, as well as legal representation. On the other hand, anyone served with a petition for a protective order should immediately contact a skilled restraining order attorney for a vigorous defense.