The Laws Behind Domestic Violence

“Domestic violence is a criminal matter and needs to stay in criminal court,… Too often, judges see charges of domestic violence as a ploy to get custody and send the case to family court.” – Catherine Campbell.

The Federal government has enacted many domestic violence laws to protect those that are married or in a domestic partnership from being victimized and abused. There are specific laws that deal with stalking, protection, traveling to commit violence, and violence against women. These laws are dealt with specifically on the federal level, and then there are state specific laws as well.

In 1994, Congress joined the fight against domestic violence by enacting legislation as part of the crime bill. Historically, the government did not have jurisdiction over domestic violence related crimes that occurred in the community. These types of crimes were dealt with in the local and state levels. The Congress of the United States recognized that crimes against women and children were posing a serious problem. Congress came up with legislation to address the shortcomings called the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This legislation created laws to address some types of domestic violence crimes on the federal level.

The precedent that was set by Congress in 1994 spread to the fifty states also. The states were asked to pass harsher laws dealing with crimes related to domestic violence. As time has passed, laws have been created to address other issues such as stalking, internet stalking, internet related crimes such as communicating threats, and so on.

Laws have been passed to fund help for victims and their children. The government has also made grants available to help states implement more support programs and networks to add victims of this type of crime. There is a national hotline that has also been created to connect victims with someone in their local area to help them with intervention and information.

The federal government has also created programs that rank how states are doing in the fight against dating violence, and are funding more shelters. The government is taking this fight very seriously and is backing their stance with funding and support. How successful have these new laws been? Well this depends upon who you ask. Official statistics show that the domestic violence laws put into place are making a dent in the amount of crimes being reported and being committed. Advocates claim that the instances of domestic violence have increased and are continuing in an upward trend.

We are making progress in the fight in our communities by making more programs and making help available to victims. We are not making progress in decreasing the amount and severity of instances of violence. More funding should be given to rehabilitate the perpetrator of this violence to end the cycle. Adding more severe domestic violence laws to punish might curb some violence but not all.

Domestic Violence Attorneys – Should You Hire a Domestic Violence Attorney

Domestic violence laws are becoming more obscure under current laws. It is getting to be easier to prosecute a person under these laws for almost any crime committed in the home. They encompass abuse against a family member, significant other, or basically anyone living under the same roof with you.

You need to find out state specific laws when it comes to violent crime the same as any other. Domestic violence attorneys are knowledgeable in the laws that govern your specific geographic location.

When you move to a new area or work outside of your home state you will be subject to local laws and jurisdictions. The adage ignorance of the law is no excuse carries over into this area just like other laws.

If you are charged with a domestic violence crime you will need representation by a skilled domestic violence attorney. This crime can carry a very steep sentence if convicted. You do not want this crime on your record to follow you around.

You may be innocent but without a good lawyer who knows the rules that govern your specific situation you could still be found guilty. If not properly represented our current legal system could rule against you. You need to make sure the person you hire to defend you knows what he is doing.

When you step in a courtroom it is your word against your accuser. If you hire any lawyer you find in the yellow pages you may not be well represented. Domestic violence lawyers know about all aspects of this type of crime and will be your best chance at getting cleared of these charges. Don’t put your life in the hands of anyone else. Do the research now and find good representation.

Dealing With Domestic Violence And Family Law

Dealing with a court case is difficult. And it is even more so when dealing with a family court case. One of the most common that involves families is domestic violence. As would be expected, victims should be encouraged to stand up against such an offense. However, the family law that deals with domestic violence is as not as friendly as would be expected. For the most part, it is especially risky to victims. Aside from other difficulties the victims have to be faced with, the law requires victims to secure criminal case documents against the offender. In which case, domestic violence victims should be careful in making decisions from the filing of the case to the rest of handling the demands of the proceedings.

Aside from dealing with the case emotionally coupled with the shame of having to face such an issue, the victims also have to deal with legal aspects. There are many things to understand. Such elements can either make or break the chances in court. So it is important to have a better understanding of the law. In this regard, having a dependable legal counsel will be of great help.

A clear understanding of the family law and court limitations with regard to handling domestic violence cases should be established. Along with the hired lawyer, the victim should see to it that enough evidence is secured and duly presented in court. Of course, the defendant will have the chance to present or counter the accusations and can also present their own evidences against the victim. In this case, the victim should be prepared to make a defense for any possible accusations which may be presented in court.

As a prerequisite to filing for a domestic violence case, a criminal case should be duly filed. The victim should ensure that the police or the DA have the corresponding proof against the abuser. If none is filed, the victim should absolutely make a police report of the criminal act.

If things are particularly difficult just filing for the case, it will become even tougher during the case proceedings. Hence, extensive preparation is called for. The family law and the way victims are protected can be discouraging and it certainly involves legal complexities. This is why treading the case alone is not recommended. Having a dependable and credible lawyer for back up and guidance will be of great help to get through and possibly win the case.

What Type Of Criminal Injury Can Victims Of Crime Be Compensated For?

If you have been the victim of an act of crime or violence, you may be able to claim compensation. The offender does not have to have been caught and prosecuted for you to make a claim for compensation, you are usually entitled to compensation if: If the crime took place within the last 2 years. However, cases of abuse may be considered over this time period. You have been injured physically, mentally or psychologically as a consequence of a violent crime. If a member of you immediate family has died as a result of a violent crime, for instance your partner, parent, wife or child. If you were a witness to a violent crime and later suffered psychological injury and had to receive counselling. Physical and/or psychological injuries are graded according to their severity. Relatively minor injuries, such as scratches, cuts and bruises will not qualify for an award.

However, if a criminal injury victim has suffered a combination of minor injuries resulting in numerous visits to see their GP or a medical establishment, received treatment and the injury has lasted more than six week, they may be entitled to claim compensation. Every case is different. In England Scotland and Wales, the minimum amount of compensation you could expect to receive would be £1,000, moderate to severe injuries can be up to £500,000 compensation, dependant on the severity of the injury/injuries sustained.

Other Types of Compensation.

If for instance you property has been damaged as the result of a crime or theft, you may be able to claim compensation. If the person that committed the crime is caught and found guilty, the court can order them to pay you compensation. In regards to making a claim for any type of criminal injury, you will have needed to have contacted the police within 24-48 hours of the incident having taken place. You will not be eligible to make a claim for criminal injuries compensation if the crime has not been reported to the police.

Victims who have reported the incident to the police can apply. The police will pass the information to the Crown Prosecution Service who will make the court aware of your claim when the case is heard. The type of loss you can be compensated can include:

  • Out of pocket expenses (financial loss, loss of earnings due to time off work because of the crime).
  • Loss via fraud
  • Loss through damage or theft of property
  • Injury from a stolen vehicle

How to make a criminal injury claim

In England, Scotland and Wales there are many personal injury solicitors that also specialise in criminal injury compensation. You have two options;

Contact a recommended or reputable personal injury solicitors. They will take care of all the legal jargon and fight for the justice that you deserve. Most solicitors charge a small percentage fee if the claim is settled, usually between 20-25% – a small price to pay for the expertise and knowledge of a reputable criminal injury solicitor who can recover the maximum compensation that you are entitled to by law.

Another alternative would be to apply direct with the CICA (Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority). You can download the form from their website: www.cica.gov.uk or call them on 0141 331 2726. Your application will be processed usually within 12 months. If you accept the compensation that is offered to you, this will be paid out to you within 28 days.

It is highly recommended that you sought the legal advice and guidance of a criminal injury solicitor. A reputable, successful firm will usually recover the compensation for you as quickly as possible to make sure that you make a healthy recover from you injuries both physically and financially. Many solicitors offer free advice with no obligation to make a claim. It would be worth you while to consider this initial course of action in the first instance and it won’t cost you a penny.

The “What” And “Who” Of Domestic Violence

The WHAT: “Violence”

What exactly constitutes domestic violence against another person? Is physical contact required? Or are threatening words enough? Although the crux of domestic violence is defined similarly across state lines, many legislatures express subtle distinctions from one another in their definitions of this unlawful behavior. Therefore, a potential victim must research the law in the jurisdiction in which the “abuse” occurred.

In California, the Family Code provides the most cohesive definition of domestic violence. The sections dealing with domestic violence are collectively known as the “Domestic Violence Prevention Act (“DVPA”). Section 6203 of the DVPA uses the word “abuse” synonymously with the word “violence.” These two words can be defined as any of the following:

(1) Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury

(2) Sexual assault

(3) Placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to their person or the person of another. Many legal minds provide a more expansive definition of domestic violence, and even classify such behavior into different groups

o PHYSICAL ABUSE: Grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hitting, hair pulling, biting, etc. Denying medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use.

o SEXUAL ABUSE: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact without consent, e.g., marital rape, forcing sex after physical beating, attacks on sexual parts of the body or treating another in a sexually demeaning manner.

o ECONOMIC ABUSE: Making or attempting to make a person financially dependent, e.g., maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding access to money, forbidding attendance at school or employment.

o EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Undermining a person’s sense of self-worth, e.g., constant criticism, belittling one’s abilities, name calling, damaging a partner’s relationship with the children.

o PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE: Causing fear by intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner or children, destruction of pets and property, mind games or forcing isolation from friends, family, school and/or work. The common thread here is clear: all domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior which keeps one partner in a position of power over another close person in their life through the use of fear, intimidation and control.

THE WHO: “Domestic”

Who can commit domestic violence against you? Can a victim only plead domestic violence against his or her spouse? His or her boyfriend? A live-in partner? In essence, a discussion of what types of relationships give rise to the potential for domestic violence has forced the California Legislature to determine exactly what they mean by the word “domestic” in the phrase “domestic violence.”

Section 6211 of the DVPA states that “domestic violence” is abuse perpetrated against any of the following persons:

(1) A spouse or former spouse

(2) A cohabitant or former cohabitant

(3) A person with whom the respondent is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship

(4) A person with whom the respondent has had a child, where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child of the female parent under the Uniform Parentage Act

(5) A child of a party or a child who is the subject of an action under the Uniform Parentage Act, where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child to be protected;

(6) Any other person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree. (Family Code, Division 10, PREVENTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, Part 1., Sec. 6211).

In lay terms, the following people can commit domestic violence against you in California:

o your spouse or former spouse.

o someone you live with or lived with in the past (but you must have a closer, more intimate relationship than just “roommates”)

o someone you are dating or have dated

o someone you have a child with

o someone to whom you are related by blood, marriage, or adoption (including your parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, or sister) In addition, California law allows minors 12 years old or older to file for restraining orders without the assistance of a parent or guardian.

Furthermore, same-sex partners are also eligible to file for restraining orders.

The two most important buzzwords to think of in determining whether the violence against you is domestic are “family” and “intimacy.” The likelihood of violence being domestic when the perpetrator is either family or one you share intimacy with is extremely high. In order to obtain legal relief, a victim must sufficiently inform the court of both the “WHAT” and the “WHO” in domestic violence. Notwithstanding, simply because a victim’s abuse does not fit within the aforementioned categories does not mean other non-legal help is unavailable.

Copyright 2006 Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer