Crossing State Lines With a Personal Protection Order

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Your Michigan PPO Can Protect You outside of Michigan

Your Michigan Personal Protection Order (PPO) can protect you outside of Michigan. There is a federal law called the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA requires every state, Indian tribe, and territory to recognize and enforce the protection orders of other states, tribes, and territories. This is called giving “full faith and credit” to the orders of other states. Full faith and credit means your PPO will be treated by another state, tribe, or territory as if it were its own order. This is true even if you wouldn’t be able to get a protection order in the other state.

The other state must also enforce the protections in your PPO even when those protections would not be allowed under its laws. For example, if your PPO restricts the abuser's contact with your children, the restriction is enforceable outside of Michigan. This is true even if the law of the other state, tribe, or territory does not allow your minor children to be included in a protection order.

Federal law also requires that a protection order be treated the same on a military base as it is in the state that gave the order. However, you may come across special issues with serving court papers on military bases.

Enforcing Your PPO outside of Michigan

Having your PPO enforced anywhere in the United States is an important part of your overall safety. Your PPO will be recognized and enforced by courts outside of Michigan if:

  • The court that gave you your PPO had jurisdiction over you, the abuser, and your case. Jurisdiction means it was legal for the court to hear your case and make a decision in it;

  • The abuser got notice of your PPO action and had an opportunity for a court hearing. This means the court papers were served on the abuser. There didn't have to be an actual hearing, but the abuser must have had an opportunity for a court hearing if they wanted one;

  • Your PPO clearly states the behavior that is prohibited; and

  • Your PPO has not expired.

If the abuser violates your PPO outside of Michigan, the law of the other state, tribe, or territory will control enforcement. For example, Michigan law allows the police to make a warrantless arrest for a PPO violation. The law in another state may or may not allow a warrantless arrest.

Moving to Another State

If you move to another state, it is a good idea to find out its rules for enforcing your PPO. Some states might ask you to register or file your PPO so that the courts and police there know about your order and that it is valid.

It’s possible that your new state will notify the abuser that your order has been registered there. If you don’t want the abuser to find out where you have moved, you should not register your order until you have checked with the courts or police in your new state to find out what their notice rules are.

You are not required to tell the court in Michigan if you move. However, you should give the court a current mailing address so that it can notify you about any actions taken in your case. Your address is public information unless you ask the court to keep this information confidential. Do this in writing if you do not want the abuser to find you by looking at information in the court file.

Protection Order from Another State

In Michigan, the police can make a warrantless arrest of a person for a violation of a different state’s protection order. In making the arrest, an officer can rely on a copy of the other state’s order if it appears to be valid and still in force and contains:

  • The parties’ names

  • An issuance date that is before the date of the violation

  • Terms and conditions against the person violating the order

  • The name of the issuing court

  • A judge's signature

The National Crime Information Center Protection Order File

The National Crime Information Center Protection Order File (NCIC POF) is the national computerized registry for protection orders. It’s similar to Michigan’s Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN), but it is nationwide. When a court issues a PPO, the law enforcement agency that enters the PPO information into LEIN should also enter it into the national registry.

The national registry helps with enforcement of protection orders and federal gun laws. The registry is helpful if you need enforcement outside of Michigan and you do not have a paper copy of your PPO with you. The registry is also searched as part of the National Instant Criminal Background Check when someone tries to buy a gun. These are advantages to having your PPO entered into the registry. However, your PPO is still valid and enforceable if it is not entered into the registry.

Guns and PPOs

Under federal law, some people who have a protection order against them are not allowed to have a gun or ammunition, even if the protection order does not say so. The abuser will be banned from having a gun under federal law if all of the following are true:

  • The PPO was issued after a hearing, and the abuser got notice of that hearing and had an opportunity to participate in it;

  • You have an intimate partner relationship to the abuser. An intimate partner under this law includes your spouse or former spouse, someone you live with or used to live with, or the other parent of your child;

  • The PPO prohibits the abuser from harassing, stalking, or threatening you or your child. Or, it prohibits the abuser from doing other things that put you in reasonable fear of bodily injury to you or your child; and

  • The PPO includes a finding that the abuser is a credible threat to the physical safety of you or your child, or an explicit ban on the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against you or your child.

Other Federal Crimes

The abuser will be punished according to the law of the state where the order is violated. Violation of a PPO in another state may also subject the abuser to prosecution for federal crimes such as:

  • Possession of a gun or ammunition

  • Travel between states to commit domestic violence

  • Interstate stalking

  • Interstate violation of a protective order

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