Full Faith and Credit: Orders of Protection Across State Lines

Posted on June 27, 2012 by


Full faith and credit requires that any valid order of protection issued at this courthouse be enforced anywhere else in the country. Image: CrimeCents

Many crime victims, especially those who have been abused, stalked, or sexually assaulted, seek restraining orders. These orders are sometimes difficult to obtain, but may be easier to get than, say, a criminal conviction.

But what happens when the victim crosses state lines? Does the order still hold up? In most cases, yes.

If that seems odd, then consider, for a moment your driver’s license. When you take that road trip across the country, stopping at all the roadside attractions, do you have to stop at each state line to apply for a new license? Of course not.

The full faith and credit clause of the Constitution more or less says that each state should show a general respect for the laws of other states. So long as you are merely passing through, your California driver’s license works just as well in Hawaii, Alaska, and Florida.

So, too, does your protection from abuse order. As long as it is valid, it must be enforced throughout the United States. According to the Battered Women’s Justice Project, a valid order is one that meets these conditions:

 The issuing court had authority over the survivor and the abuser (i.e. personal jurisdiction), and had the authority to hear the case (i.e. subject matter jurisdiction); and

The abuser was given notice of the order, the date of the hearing, the right to appear, and the opportunity to be heard should the abuser wish to offer testimony in opposition to the entry of a final order.

Image: CrimeCents

Unfortunately, many victims, advocates, and law enforcement officers are unaware of how the full faith and credit clause relates to orders of protection.

The National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith and Credit offers terrific resources for survivors, advocates, prosecutors, law enforcement, and tribal justice.

Survival often requires education and self-advocacy – so don’t hesitate to share these materials with others!


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