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If you or any child of your family is being physically harmed by another family or household member, or if physical harm is threatened against you or a child, or if a child in your care is being sexually abused, you can get a protective order from the municipal court in you town, the justice court of your county, the county court or the chancery court. The judge of any of these courts can order the person who is threatening or abusing you or your children not to come within a certain distance of you whether you are in the family home, at your work place, or anywhere else. It may spell out other protections that you need. The judge may order that you stay in the family home and the abuser move out. The discretion that a judge has in issuing an order for the protection of domestic violence victims is broad and can be adapted to your particular situation.
The existence of a protective order puts you in what the law calls a "special relationship" with local law enforcement officers and they have a duty to see that the protective order is obeyed. If the person breaks the terms of the protective order, he can be arrested and can be held in contempt of court and sent to jail.
You do not need a lawyer to get a temporary protective order; the clerk of the court can help you fill out the forms that you need. If you have trouble getting this done, the director of the domestic violence shelter in your area can help you get whatever assistance you need in filing the forms with the court. Although a temporary protection order can be issued by any of the courts listed above, it is usually easier and faster to get the order from municipal or justice court.
The temporary protective orders are good for ten days, but may be extended for another twenty days. If protection is needed longer than that, a hearing must be held in chancery court and notice must be given to your abuser of the date and time of the hearing; both you and you abuser will have the chance to give evidence to a judge. At this point, it would be better for you to be represented by an attorney, or at least get legal advice. Again, the domestic violence shelter in your area can help you with this. A protective order issued by the chancery court after a hearing is good for one year.
When you apply for a protective order, you must be able to prove to a judge that you have been a victim of violence or that you have good reason to fear future violence. You will need to tell him of specific incidents when you have been assaulted or have been put in fear that you will suffer bodily harm. If you have witnesses to the assaults or threats, take them with you. If they will not come willingly with you to court, they can be issued a subpoena by the court ordering them to come to the hearing.
If you have moved into Mississippi and you have a protective order issued by a judge in another state, you are entitled to have that order enforced in this state. The order from another state is good until the date on the face of the order, or if there is no date, it is good for one year from the date it is issued.
Getting a protective order from a court can be confusing if you are not familiar with the court system, and most people aren't. Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. If the clerk of the court where you apply for the order won't or can't give you the help you need, call or go to the area domestic violence shelter. The shelters all have personnel who are thoroughly familiar with the process involved in getting a protective order; they will be glad to help you.
Once you have a protective order, you need to make several copies of it as soon as possible. You should keep a copy of it with you at all times, leaving copies at home, at your workplace, at your children's school or daycare, in your car, with a friend. If your workplace has a security guard, make sure that he is aware of the protective order; if not, let your boss or someone else know of its existence, so they can immediately call the police if your abuser shows up there.
Take a copy of your protective order to the police station in your town, or to the sheriff's office if you live outside the city limits, and ask them to let the officers who patrol in your neighborhood know that you have been granted protection from this person by a court.
If you move to another county while the protective order is in effect, you should go to the chancery clerk of that county and show them a copy of your order. You should also go to local law enforcement of that city or county and give them a copy. If you move to another state after you get a protective order in Mississippi, your are entitled to protection from law enforcement in that state. You should take your protective order as soon as you can to the clerk of the court in the county where you are now living.
Law Enforcement Assistance
If you have been forced to leave your home because of violence or threats of violence, you are entitled to have a law enforcement officer go back to the home with you to protect you while you get clothes, food, medication or other personal property necessary for you and your children to live away from the home until the matter can be decided in a court. The officer who responds to this request for help is supposed to take whatever steps are necessary to protect you form harm during your trip to your home.
This law also requires that the officer advise you of any sources available in the community for shelter, medical care, counseling and other services and that he transport you to these facilities if you need transportation and if they are within his jurisdiction.
Domestic Violence Shelters
By law, there must be at least one domestic violence shelter in each of the nine Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol Districts. The shelters (currently there are 12 in the state) receive state and federal funding to provide a place to stay, food, counseling and other assistance to persons who are victims of domestic abuse and to their children. The addresses of the most of the shelters are kept secret to protect the residents, but the phone numbers and addresses are known to local law enforcement officers and to others (hospitals, clinics, etc.) who may be called upon to provide help to domestic violence victims. The phone number of the domestic violence shelter nearest to you is available here.