Domestic Violence is a criminal offense, and the criminal law rules, the punishment and the victim's rights, and civil protections available to victims of this type of harm. The primary purpose of domestic violence laws is to punish offenders and protect the victims.
Convictions for Domestic Violence in all states require that a defendant's conduct and relationship with the victim meet specific statutory standards. These will vary by jurisdiction, but the conduct and relationship are generally broadly defined.
Recourse would be dependent upon the type of harm done, with malicious threats to cause physical harm qualifying for harsher punishments than simple petty vandalism. Dating relationships will often prove the necessary relationship between perpetrator and victim, although family relationships will also suffice.
A Response to Allegations of Domestic Violence
Assuming you have followed these basic rules, you have time to focus on your defense while awaiting the resolution of the criminal charges or a civil restraining order. Making the right moves during this critical time is critical to the outcome of your case.
When responding to an initial no-contact order, the accused must not give the accuser any reason to believe they have broken the order. Indirect contact with the accuser must be avoided entirely, depending on the exact wording of the order; this will likely include telephone calls, text messaging, email and social media, and contact through a mutual acquaintance or other third parties.
The safest course of action is to ignore the complainant completely and contact an attorney or law enforcement agency who can place you in touch with the order's issuing authority.
Legal options following an arrest for drug possession or possession with intent to distribute
A criminal case can be resolved in two ways.
- The defendant can either decide to fight the allegations by going to trial, or the defendant can plead guilty; or
- no contest in exchange for more lenient penalties than would otherwise have been imposed.
An attorney can provide insight into whether you should go to trial or bargain for a plea, but ultimately the decision rests with the defendant.
All crimes, including domestic violence, involve evidence. Domestic violence cases often involve "he said, she said" evidence, making the accuser's credibility highly relevant. Recorded statements by the accuser are also central to the case since the prosecution can go forward even if the accuser recants or decides not to press charges. Medical examinations, video surveillance, and the testimony of law enforcement can also suggest a trial's outcome.
Civil remedies are not the only options available to a victim. Because most jurisdictions have enacted laws addressing domestic violence, victims of Domestic Violence who have legitimate claims may also pursue remedies through the civil justice system.
From a victim's standpoint, personal safety is paramount. In addition to contacting the police immediately and cooperating in the criminal prosecution of the offender, victims can pursue two types of civil remedies: restraining orders placed by the courts and orders for protection issued by state or local agencies.
The most common form of protection is a restraining order, which can be obtained without cost and available assistance. People seeking protection should contact their local court or sheriff's office and get a temporary restraining order, commonly called a TRO. If this form is filed, it can be obtained without cost. The TRO becomes effective within 24 hours when it can be placed on the defendant. It may require the defendant to stay away from the victim's home, place of work, school, or other places and activities.
Additional protection is available through various other court orders and orders issued by agencies. Orders of protection are available from law enforcement agencies at no cost to the victim. Assistance with obtaining an order of protection or restraining order may be obtained by contacting a domestic violence victim advocate at the local court.
A restraining order is a legal order issued by a judge prohibiting specific actions by the abuser.
A restraining order can prevent the abuser from coming within a specified distance (or to a specified place) of the victim (or the victim's family). It can require the abuser to have no contact with the victim, cease all contact, or leave home altogether.
It depends on the nature of the order but can include the abuser paying for the victim's expenses (such as rent, mortgage payments, and utilities), caring for pets or children, and mandatory drug and alcohol testing.