What A Victim of Domestic Violence Can Do

Domestic violence is a very personal and painful experience, and it requires handling by trained professionals who are experienced and compassionate. The first step in a domestic violence case is to protect the victim from any more abuse. This can be done with court orders that can be obtained with the help of an attorney who specializes in family law.

Domestic violence law in California defines domestic violence as the following:

o Threats of injury by hitting or using a weapon
o Actual physical behavior that hurts the person
o Forced sexual behavior and harassment
o Psychological abuse that deflates a person’s self esteem or attempts to control the person
o Stalking or cyberstalking

If any of these actions occur, law allows a victim to request a protective order from the court to stop the abusive behavior. These protective orders can be sought for an abusive spouse, but they can also be obtained against a sexual partner, family member or roommate. It is best to request one of these orders as soon as possible after the abuse occurs, since courts are more likely to provide orders on an emergency basis in these cases. However, a delay in reporting the abuse should never be a reason for not reporting it at all, since domestic violence law allows victims to file for protection at any time in the process.

A protective order in these cases usually consists of a temporary restraining order or TRO. These orders will prohibit the other person from approaching the victim at home, at work or over the phone. The order may also force the spouse to go into counseling and prohibit him from purchasing a firearm. The order may even extend to children and others living in the home if their safety is also at stake. If the person violates the restraining order in any way, the police can be called and an arrest can be made.

According to law, these restraining orders are registered in a statewide database. This makes it much easier to track and respond to abusers who choose to violate those orders in any way. If someone has a need to seek a restraining order, the best approach is to contact an attorney who is well versed in domestic violence law to help with the process. This professional can also help to ensure that the order is enforced and that appropriate measures are taken if it is violated.

Domestic violence is a painful situation that happens far too often. However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure that abuse of any kind that is inflicted on a victim is stopped once and for all. Under law, a restraining order can be placed to protect the victim and the rest of the family if necessary. If you have been the victim of any sort of domestic abuse, contact a family law attorney right away to find out what your rights are and how to make the violence stop.

Things to Know About Domestic Violence Laws in the US

In every household there comes a time that an intense verbal argument occurs for a number of reasons: jealousy, financial problems, sibling rivalry, etc. However, sometimes people may physically assault a family member because they cannot control their anger, want to assert control or may have been verbally provoked. In so doing, the aggressor has committed Domestic Violence.

Whenever such serious matters occur, you may think of seeking outside help either by calling the police or by consulting an attorney. It is preferable to discuss the issue with an experienced legal professional first, since you may have trouble handling the legal ramifications that may ensue following the crime’s disclosure.

The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the most important legal aspects of Domestic Abuse, in a simplified and accessible way and to provide a starting point for more specialized study.

1. What is Domestic Violence?

Any person who physically abused a family or household member has committed the crime of Domestic Violence. Domestic assault is a distinctive and more serious case than Assault and Battery -which involves strangers- and is treated accordingly.

2. Domestic assault can be difficult to prove.

The easiest way to identify an abused victim is by looking for signs of assault on the body (scratches, bruises, etc.). In the absence of such evidence, eye witness’s testimonies are valuable, but are not always available. What adds complexity when evidence is inconclusive, is that it can be hard to prove the crime or ascertain who the instigator was (both parties can claim to have been abused or acting in self-defense and the aggressor could deny the charge).

3. The severity of the assault, the victim and the aggressor’s medical history and potential addictions are taken into account for the sentence.

Simply put, an aggressor who slapped his spouse will be punished more leniently, than one who punched and kicked her. If a child was abused the law is more severe. A person with addictions (a drug-user or an alcoholic), or mental disorders may also be required to undertake therapy.

4. If domestic abuse is reported, it can severely disrupt family relations.

Domestic assault is a serious criminal charge, which means that if the authorities find out about the crime, they are obligated to take legal action, whether the victim intents to or not. The state laws of Virginia dictate that the authorities can issue a no-contact (protective) order, effectively prohibiting any form of communication between the aggressor, the victim and the rest of the family.

5. First time offenders can have their case dismissed or may be judged more leniently.

The guilty party can have their sentence dismissed, if they have never committed a crime before. It is also possible that the state offers a plea bargain to the accused. If the abuser admits guilt before the case goes to court, the sentence can be more lenient.

6. The alleged abuser’s and the accuser’s personality and habits play an important role in court.

A person with a toxic and abusive personality, will have a harder time convincing the court about his innocence. On the other hand, the accuser may have an ulterior motive or may be a habitual liar. All of the above aspects come into play when the case is tried.

7. It’s advisable for both parties to avoid contact after the crime has been reported.

Whether you are the accuser or the perpetrator it is preferable to refrain from communicating between each other, as any form of contact could have a detrimental effect to your case, especially if a protective order is in effect.

Conclusion

Domestic Violence can be a complex and challenging crime to handle. Whether you decide to press charges against an abuser, or think you have been wrongfully accused, you should always consult with an experienced criminal law attorney.

Further reading

For more information on US Domestic Violence laws, visit the FindLaw site.

For an example of how States deal with Domestic Violence you can look at Code of Virginia ยง18.2-57 and the State’s Attorney General’s site.

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Washington Domestic Violence Law

Domestic Violence Charges in Washington

A charge of domestic violence can initiate not one, but a series of criminal prosecutions, setting actions in motion that can have very serious, long-term consequences. Washington state law provides for vigorous prosecution of anyone charged with the crime of domestic violence (DV). It is, in fact, one of the most zealously prosecuted crimes in the state. As in many criminal prosecutions, competent legal counsel is critical to assure that the person charged is provided an effective and timely defense that will generate the most successful resolution possible.

Washington state law defines DV as any crime committed against a family member, someone living in the same household, or against someone with whom you have or have had a dating relationship. While the majority of domestic violence cases involve couples who are in or have been in an intimate relationship, the scope of the law is not limited to that scenario. It can also apply to parent-child relationships, sibling relationships and various other established associations or domestic affiliations as defined in RCW 26.50.010 and RCW 10.99.020.

Washington state law, specifically RCW 26.50 and RCW 10.99, deals with domestic relations and defines the applicable relationships as well as the behavior considered to be in violation under the law. Harassment, intimidation, threatening, bodily injury or harm, physical or sexual assault, and stalking are just a few of the listed violations. Misdemeanor or felony charges can be filed as a result of any of these actions based on the circumstances and severity of the crime.

Once an arrest for DV has been made, the court will schedule an arraignment proceeding where formal charges will be filed by the prosecution and the defendant will be required to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Upon accepting the plea and assuming a not-guilty plea was entered, the judge will determine the conditions of release. Conditions could include participation in a treatment program, electronic home monitoring, or adherence to a no-contact order. The judge may issue a no-contact order at this time if there is not one already in place. A date is set for the pretrial hearing and the defendant may be released based on the judge’s conditions. If, on the other hand, a guilty plea is entered, the defendant may be remanded into custody until sentencing.

No-contact orders are issued by the court for the protection of the victim in a DV case. Adherence to the court order is absolutely essential, whether the victim deems it warranted or not. For example, when law enforcement responds to a DV incident and an arrest is made for criminal conduct, the court will determine whether a protection order is warranted. That order must be honored by both parties or a subsequent arrest and prosecution will be initiated for violation. The victim does not have the authority to reverse a no-contact order and must abide by the judge’s order or incur additional criminal prosecution.

At the pretrial hearing, the parties will review the charges and any progress in the case to determine its readiness for trial. At this point, the prosecution and defense have the opportunity to amend the charges or the plea, and the case will either be resolved or will proceed to trial. Motion hearings may be set before trial to hear various issues and then, barring settlement or pleading out to a lesser charge, the case will proceed to trial. At trial evidence will be submitted by both parties, and the judge or a jury will enter its judgment accordingly, either for conviction or acquittal.

The laws of the State of Washington are enacted to protect the victims of domestic violence. The court system works in concert with the district attorney to prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law and protect the victim. If you have been arrested for domestic violence, your first response must be to seek qualified legal counsel who can prepare an appropriate response to the charges filed against you. Procedural and legal responses will need to be presented to support your case and these require the experience and expertise of a professional with years of familiarity with the law. A criminal conviction is a lifelong issue and affect everything from your right to vote and be in possession of a firearm to your future freedom and the ability to work at the job of your choice. It is critical to consult an experienced Washington attorney if you face domestic violence charges. For more information about the legal implications of domestic violence charges, visit http://www.vancouverlaw.net

Domestic Violence, Gender Discrimination

Personal Safety is a fundamental right of life – the right to live without fear of any harm or danger to you and your family, both immediate and extended. No one has the right to harm, abuse or threaten anyone else and a victim has the right to make a formal complaint and seek action against the offender.

“Domestic violence is any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (be it physical or emotional) between adults who are or have been in a relationship together, or between family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. The types of behavior frequently encountered in domestic violence are physical attacks, sexual attacks, psychological abuse, and the destruction of property or pets”.

Domestic Violence and abuse “consists of acts committed in the context of an adult intimate relationship. Domestic violence is purposeful and instrumental behavior directed at achieving compliance from, or control over the abused party”.

It is one of the most under-reported crimes worldwide and occurs across all strata of society. Although statistics and analytical figures point that domestic abuse consists mainly of violence by men against women, it is not restricted to these circumstances. In some cases men too are abused by their partners. However, it is shocking that globally domestic violence accounts for 16% of all violent crimes and 77% of victims are women. It is equally shocking to read that most victims have suffered repeated abuse and continue enduring physical violence for several years before they make a formal complaint. Unfortunately, in most cases, children are at the receiving end of abuse within homes. It is also equally relevant here to note that most women do not report violence or abuse for fear of harassment to their children.

Domestic violence in homes occurs if a spouse is being subjected to abuse by current or former spouse, parent or child. Even if a person is harassed, threatened, stalked, beaten, freedom of movement restrained, or property destroyed; then all these too constitute domestic violence. A victim of domestic violence does not have to be in a marital or other relationship.

Attitudes that are reflected by society contribute greatly to domestic violence. Long held notions that a wife is the “property of a husband and he can do what he likes to keep her in check” have been the cause for delayed action in cases involving domestic violence. Adding to this already aggravating situation is the view that ‘domestic violence’ does not strictly come under the purview of ‘police investigation’. Archaic laws like “the rule of thumb” existed till very recent times.

Till the 1970s, most cases involving domestic violence were settled by mediation by third parties without achieving any desired results. Police response to domestic violence has a pathetic record globally.

Family Law guidelines view such violations seriously and advise victims on the action they need to take and also on what will happen once their application is received. It has also enforced the ‘right of protection to women irrespective of status’ as a constitutional fundamental right.

Several legal cases in the US and Europe have highlighted the plight of victims of domestic violence as well as landmark judgements that have been pronounced. Today, many police agencies adopt mandatory arrest policies enforcing the view that society should view domestic violence as a criminal offence. Only strict action and stringent punishment can provide safety and solace to victims of domestic violence.

In India’s context, it is relevant to sit up and take notice of the increasing number of incidents that are classified as “honour killing” in recent times. Thanks to media exposure, more numbers of incidents are highlighted and the world at large is witness to some gruesome crimes, which are horrifying to say the least. How could family, kith & kin kill another member of the family brutally just to avenge ‘honour’ and ‘status’? What is this mindset? Even the most expert of psychologists may have to delve deep into their knowledge and expertise to come up with plausible explanations and reasoning. For the record, murders are committed of girls who elope with boyfriends; or marry a man of their choice, outside of their own community or caste, against the parents’ wishes; or decide to have a harmless cup of coffee or an ice cream with a classmate of the opposite gender.

Some of these violent crimes are aided and abetted by so-called communal and religious bodies, obviously with backing from some political party that they pledge allegiance to. One such agency took upon itself to “marry off” any two people of the opposite sex who were seen out in the open on Valentine’s Day. Utterly shameless and perverted thinking of the worst kind. Another local administrative body suggests that girls ‘must be’ married off at the age of 15 and boys at the age of 18 to prevent them going ‘astray’ and indulging in shameful activity. A minister went on national television to say that ‘governance cannot trample and set laws that oppose traditional beliefs and mindsets’. What a myopic and absolutely shameful viewpoint!!! Such negative trends will have far reaching consequences on a society’s growth and development. Elsewhere, governments are providing incentives to families to educate girl children because it is not believed without reason, that if you “educate and liberate a woman with knowledge and confidence, you are educating and liberating a family”. Females of any species have that innate ability to strive and overcome obstacles especially when it comes to protecting and providing for the wellbeing of their families. Perhaps nature’s design is not without purpose because every family, even in the poorest of villages across India, that has a literate girl child has seen innumerable benefits being absorbed into their lives in many ways.

Another obvious example of the success of women’s liberation is the micro financing schemes introduced in Third World economies which is ample proof of what women can achieve for themselves, and in turn their families, if they are given the right opportunities and assistance. This success has been a lifeline for millions of families around the globe transforming communities and towns into hives of action and sustenance fuelled by women, cutting across language, regional, religious and communal barriers.

There are huge implications from these positive results and vast lessons for the rest of the world to learn. Hopefully, now that the transformation has arrived, it will evolve to engulf the whole world.

And we may as yet live to see gender biases and discrimination a thing of the past. Long live women power!!