Domestic Violence: Orders of Protection, Criminal Charges, and Divorce and Custody

Domestic Violence: Orders of Protection, Criminal Charges, and Divorce and Custody About forty years ago or so, law enforcement rarely responded to calls about domestic violence and cries from domestic violence victims. When a spouse or significant other struck, hit, beat, or threatened a victim, law enforcement usually viewed the violence as a family matter and would not intervene to help the victim.

That view no longer holds. Now, law enforcement responds. Usually, but not always, the victims are female. A victim can secure an Order of Protection and the police and/or law enforcement can file criminal charges against the perpetrator (usually the male who abused the victim). An Order of Protection is usually given ex parte, or the victim alone declares under oath the facts underlying the violence or abuse. If the facts are sufficient, and often they are, a magistrate or judge will issue the Order of Protection. The Order of Protection prohibits the perpetrator from calling, communicating, visiting or seeing the victim.

If the perpetrator violates the Order of Protection, the civil proceeding turns into a criminal one: A violation carries criminal penalties. A full-blown hearing – with both the victim and the perpetrator present – is scheduled shortly thereafter. Often, victim-witness coordinator will strongly encourage the victim to press forward. Know this: Law enforcement will receive a copy of the Order or Protection and will arrest a person (usually the perpetrator) who violates an Order of Protection. What’s more, the victim is prohibited from contacting the perpetrator during the time that an Order of Protection is in effect.

In addition to a victim obtaining an Order of Protection, police or law enforcement may file criminal charges against the perpetrator, who will face generally charges of assault, domestic assault or related charges. The criminal process is slow and may take months or years to resolve. A perpetrator will ordinarily have to post a bond, hire a lawyer, and face criminal charges carrying fines, possible jail time, and probation. There are also collateral consequences: The violator will have a criminal record, may not be able to own a firearm, and more.

If the victim secures an Order of Protection, the perpetrator may not be able to visit his children for a time and afterwards only with conditions, and if the victim and perpetrator are married, the victim often has the upper hand in a divorce proceeding.

In short, the law protects victims of violence and abuse and will not hesitate to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Both victims and perpetrators should understand the implications of an Order of Protection and related criminal charges. For both victim and perpetrator, there are defenses and strategies available to deal with these issues. Contact The Law Office of Perry A. Craft, PLLC in Nashville for more information. Please call 615-953-3808 or fill out our contact form.