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Legal Options For Victims Of Domestic Violence

The home is supposed to be a safe refuge from the rest of the world. Unfortunately, some homes are chaotic and dangerous as a result of domestic violence. Domestic violence can occur between current or former intimate partners or within families living in the same household.

It's important for victims of domestic violence to know that they have legal options available to them to help them escape the dangers of domestic violence.

Criminal Charges

It is possible to pursue criminal charges in cases where domestic violence results in injury. When domestic violence gets out of hand, law enforcement officials are often called to the scene. Police officers reserve the right to take the offender into custody and file charges on behalf of the victim.

Even if the police do not get involved in your domestic violence dispute, you can still pursue criminal charges against your abuser. An attorney will be able to help you evaluate the facts of your case and file a criminal complaint against your abuser in court.

Criminal charges related to domestic violence are serious, and offenders found guilty of engaging in domestic violence can be punished with jail or prison time.

Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Another legal avenue that you can pursue if you need protection against someone in your home is a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO). These restraining orders are issued by a family court judge to protect victims of domestic violence from further injury or abuse.

Because a DVRO is not a criminal action, these restraining orders can be obtained without proof of physical harm. Domestic violence can include many types of abuse—including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

If you fear someone in your home will lash out against you once you talk to a counselor, support center, or police officer about the abuse you are suffering, then filing for a DVRO can be beneficial. Violation of a DVRO can result in criminal charges.

Restraining Order

Another type of court order that can be used to offer you protection against domestic violence is a restraining order.

These orders can do many of the same things that a DVRO can, but with some added benefits. A restraining order can require that the restrained continue to make spousal or child support payments, return property that was taken from you, and avoid any contact with a family pet.

If you need the additional protection a restraining order can provide, an attorney will be able to help you file the necessary paperwork.