Domestic violence and family violence are terms that are commonly used to describe a coercive behavior in which an individual will attempt to control another through threats, physical violence, assault and/or abuse. Some examples of domestic violence abuse and family violence may include physical abuse, sexual abuse, economic abuse, emotional abuse or psychological abuse of one family member or intimate partner by another. In most states, domestic violence and family violence includes assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or murder of one household member by another household member.
There are typically 3 different types of courts that handle domestic violence or family violence cases.
(1) Criminal court - Where the state prosecutes the perpetrator of domestic violence abuse
(2) Civil court - Where one party may sue another for money damages or address the issue of a protection order violation due to domestic violence abuse
(3) Family court - Where the family court addresses domestic violence abuse before, during or after a divorce.
Domestic violence or family violence is a crime in all states, but the laws related to domestic violence or family violence can vary from state to state. Further the consequences of the individual who has been accused or found guilty of domestic violence can also vary from state to state. Typically the court or a judge will determine whether you have suffered from domestic violence abuse or family violence. In other words, the court or a judge will need to be convinced that you have been threatened with domestic violence or family violence or that you have suffered from abuse in order for you to obtain some type of domestic violence relief from the court.
In the context of a divorce or child custody proceeding, family violence or domestic violence can have a significant impact on an individual's child custody and visitation rights when accused and/or found guilty of domestic violence or family violence. For example, California Family Code Section 3044 states there is a rebuttal presumption that it is not in the best interest of the child for the court to award sole legal or physical custody or joint legal or physical custody to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence or family violence within the previous 5 years unless there is a showing that it is in the best interest of the child by a showing of a preponderance of the evidence.
If you or someone you know has been charged with domestic violence, it is very important to contact an experienced domestic violence attorney, domestic violence lawyer, criminal defense lawyer, or family lawyer who handles domestic violence or family violence matters for legal representation so you know your rights. The penalties for a domestic violence or family violence conviction can be serious and life-changing and a domestic violence attorney, domestic violence lawyer, criminal defense lawyer, or family lawyer who handles domestic violence or family violence cases can help explain some of the defenses that may be available to you. Even in cases where a person has been arrested for domestic violence or family violence, he/she may not have actually committed a crime. Contacting a domestic violence attorney, domestic violence lawyer, criminal defense lawyer, or family lawyer who handles domestic violence cases as soon as possible is one of the first steps to take to properly defend you in a domestic violence or family violence case.