Understanding Domestic Violence Law: A Comprehensive Guide
When it comes to understanding the law, there are different guidelines in every state and for every type of charge. Domestic violence is a category that affects many people and there are a lot of varying details that both victims and accused parties should be aware of. You need to know where to turn, what to expect, and the kinds of resources that are available as you work through your unique scenario.
Whether you are facing help with domestic violence charges or seeking to charge someone else with domestic violence, understanding the law is your starting place. Here, we will share basic details to help break down the law so that you can have the information you need to move forward.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is defined as any type of threat or action of violence that influences another individual’s behavior. We often think of domestic as only being physical violence, but it encompasses coercion, emotional, sexual, economic, psychological, and physical violence. Domestic violence is specific to partners that are in some sort of intimate relations, whether it is a spouse, significant other, or other similar situation.
Domestic violence charges are typically enforced following some sort of call or allegation of violence. Many times, it involves the police being called to a scene, but that is not always the case. In terms of legalities, the case will review behaviors or intentions that did cause harm or even threatened harm, but there must be evidence to back up these admissions.
The law can vary in different states and different scenarios so be sure to check out the details of your state’s law for finite details regarding domestic violence cases. You can also work with an experienced attorney to better understand the legal system and get necessary guidance to work through your situation.
Legal Ramifications of Domestic Violence Charges
The consequences of receiving a domestic violence charge varies by state. For example, in Kansas a first offense is labeled as a misdemeanor and comes with a fine of $200-500 as well as a minimum of 48 hours in jail. However, in Florida the penalties are written differently and say up to one year in prison and up to one year of probation. It is still a misdemeanor there.
You will see similarities in terms of the severity of the offense and the penalty. Many of the details of what to expect will be unique to your situation. If this is a third offense, the penalties will likely be significantly higher. The severity of any involved injuries or damages may also play a part in the penalties and charge as well.
Some of the charges that fall under the domestic violence umbrella include these things:
Some states will issue protective order against the threat of violence, while others will not issue a protective order until something has occurred. Protective orders are used as a means of protection and help restrict interactions between the victim and the person who is doing the abusing. There are also consequences to violating the terms of a protective order.
Your attorney will be able to help you best understand what you are facing and what the consequences may be.
When and How to Report Domestic Violence
When do you report domestic violence and what steps do you take? If you have been affected by domestic violence, you should report it immediately. Those who work in healthcare and treat people for injuries also should be aware and make reports when necessary.
If you are a victim, you should seek support even when you have been threatened by violence. This at least makes your local law enforcement aware that there is a situation and may be cause for concern and monitoring. If you are uncertain about how to proceed or scared to seek help, you can use an anonymous hotline as well. There are safety resources and protocols available to help protect you. Finding what is available in your area is very important.
The victim should be the person to file a report, but if you suspect domestic violence, it may be worth checking into as well. A victim has to make the final decision, but they may need to know it’s ok to step forward and what resources are available to them to do so.
Victims of domestic violence abuse have the right to be protected and safe. However, every jurisdiction has different provisions and laws so you need to get advisement about the options in your legal jurisdiction.
Learn and Use Support Resources
Support comes in two forms for the purpose of this guide. The first is the victim that needs to know they are not alone and can find the resources and provisions to not only protect them but also help them get into a better situation.
The other side is the individual that is being charged with domestic violence. This individual also has rights that protect them and they are entitled to legal defense. The legal system is complex and the best resource to rely on for the accused is to work with an attorney that is experienced handling cases like yours. They will be able to best inform you, determine the plan of action, and help you navigate the legal process.
On both sides, finding relevant support is crucial. Understand that there are resources, groups, mental health professionals, community support, and other assistance available so that you can move away from a bad situation.
Domestic violence laws have a lot of variability across the board. We know the legal system can be complex and complicated so understanding the details and your rights can be incredibly complicated. There is support available for victims and legal representation available for those facing charges or accusations.
If you are facing any type of domestic violence situation, take the time to learn your resources and seek the help you need for your situation. It is so important to be aware and familiar so you know where you can turn for your circumstances.