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Legal Information: Rhode Island

Restraining Orders

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April 27, 2018

What is the National Crime Information Center Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials. If your protection order meets the national criteria, it will be entered into the NCIC.*

All law enforcement officials have access to it, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

* National Crime Information Center

Do I have to register my protection order in Rhode Island in order to get it enforced?

No. Police officers must enforce your protection order whether or not you register it. If it is not registered, you will need to show the officer a copy of your protection order, and you may have to swear in writing that it is still in effect.*

While you do not have to register your protection order in order to get it enforced, one benefit of registration is that you may be able to get your order enforced, even if you are not carrying a copy of the order with you when the police officer arrives at the scene.** Protection orders that are registered in Rhode Island are kept in RONCO, the Rhode Island Restraining Order/No Contact Order Registry, and Rhode Island police officers should have access to this registry when they come to the scene.

* RI Gen. Laws § 12-29-1.1(b)
** RI Gen. Laws § 12-29-1.1(b)

How do I register my protection order in Rhode Island?

You can file your protection order in any superior court, family court or district court by filing a certified copy of the order with the court. The court will make you swear under oath in an affidavit (a written statement) that to the best of your knowledge, the order is presently in effect as written. The order will then be entered into the Rhode Island Restrining Order/No Contact Order (RONCO) database.*

You do not need a lawyer to register your protection order. If you are confused or worried about the process, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Rhode Island to ask for help from a local advocate. To find a local domestic violence organization in Rhode Island, please go to our RI Links and Resources page.

 * RI Gen. Laws § 12-29-1.1(b)

Will the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.*  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Safety Tips page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan.  You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our RI Advocates and Shelters page.

* 18 USC § 2265(d)

What if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

Maybe.  If your order is not entered into the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) database (a national database of protection orders that some states keep records in), and you do not have a copy of your order with you when the police officer arrives, it may be more difficult to have your order enforced because it will be hard for the Rhode Island police officer to make sure that your order is real.

However, if you have a certified copy of your protection order with you, or if it is listed in the NCIC, then it may not matter if your protection order is registered in Rhode Island or not.

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area.  An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Rhode Island.  To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in Rhode Island, go to our RI Places that Help page.

Does it cost anything to register my protection order?

No. It does not cost anything to register your order.