With Domestic Violence – Silence is Not the Answer
Domestic violence encompasses a large range of offenses including sexual, physical, emotional, and financial abuse. It is a concern that is prevalent throughout the world. According to the United States Department of Justice, estimates range from 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend each year to 4 million women who are physically abused by their husbands or live-in parents each year.” Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. After all, domestic violence is blind to factors such as age, race, and ethnicity. Many abused persons believe that domestic violence is a matter that will eventually go away and, because of this belief, many suffer in silence. However, this does not have to be the case. One must make a decision to take action against such in injustice. The domestic violence statute is a civil action. When domestic violence occurs it also includes the commission of a crime. Some examples of those crimes are assault, battery, stalking, and harassment.
First and foremost, victims of domestic violence should report the abuse to the State Police and other law enforcement agencies where the violence has occurred. After that, victims may petition for relief, file their case with the help of a lawyer, and proceed with a police investigation. Your petition should not be done in a casual way. Here is where a lawyer can assist you in properly completing the petition. Details are very important. By not accurately describing the events or by providing the wrong dates of violence, the victim will often be prevented from successfully obtaining a final and somewhat permanent order. Usually judges award the victim an order enforceable for up to one year. There can also be an issuance of ex parte orders and orders of protection. An ex parte order is basically a temporary protective order. It usually lasts for seven days and is issued when the judge only meets with one of the parties involved. With an ex parte order, the victim attends a court hearing without his/her abuser present. Usually both parties need to be present under such legal circumstances; however, an ex parte order is temporary and therefore is an exception to this rule. Upon issuance of an ex parte order, a return date is set. At this return date (merits hearing), both victim and abuser must appear in court. In essence, a merits hearing is a trial because there is a judge presiding over the case and witnesses may be called to testify; however, it lacks a jury. At such a hearing, it is imperative that the petitioner present clear and convincing evidence. Providing such proof will allow the victim to win his/her case. Clear and convincing evidence is regarded as a heavier burden than preponderance of the evidence which can either lean in favor towards the petitioner or the respondent. On the other hand, clear and convincing evidence is less of a burden than reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt is the standard used by judges and jurors when determining whether or not the defendant is guilty as charged. If an abuser were not to comply with such ex parte or protection orders, penalties would ensue. Such penalties could include a finding of contempt, criminal prosecution, and imprisonment and/or fines. Upon first offense, the fine can be up to $1,000 and/or up to 90 days in jail. With a second offense, the fines can go up to $2,500 and/or up to a year in jail.
In any case, victims of domestic violence should not feel as though they are to blame; the abuser is the one at fault. After all, no one can control the actions of others. Domestic violence is sort of like cancer. It is an issue that does not have an absolute solution or cure; however, increased awareness can provide remedies. Just as cancer, domestic violence may never fully go away; however, taking certain actions and steps, such as filing a petition or contacting the police, will better the situation at hand.
If you are a victim of domestic violence you need to immediately remove yourself from the violence and immediately call me at 410 730 4404, for a free initial consultation