If you are a victim of Domestic Violence, or accused of Domestic Violence, then it is important that you know your rights. Domestic Violence is a real problem for both men and women and is an important social issue. In Family Court, Domestic Violence is a civil matter and therefore if you are accused of Domestic Violence, you are not guaranteed representation in Court. If you get a Domestic Violence Order entered against you and you violate that Order, it is a criminal offense.
Domestic Violence Process (How it starts)
· A Petition for a Protective Order is filed.
· The Petition is immediately sent to a judge to determine if there is a need for immediate protection and if so, they will issue an Emergency Protective Order and order the parties to a hearing date provided by the Court.
· If the judge determines that there is not a need for immediate protection they will issue a summons directing the parties to come before the judge at a hearing date provided by the Judge.
Emergency Protection Orders
An emergency protection order is a restraining order that can have immediate effects on your life. It can do the following:
1. Order the alleged abuser to have no contact with the alleged victim or the alleged victim’s family;
2. Order the alleged abuser to vacate their own home;
3. Restrain the alleged abuser from being present at other addresses indicated by the alleged victim;
4. Order the alleged abuser to not dispose or sell any of the parties’ property;
5. Grant the alleged victim temporary custody of the parties’ children
6. Order the immediate forfeiture of any and all firearms the alleged abuser may possess.
Domestic violence hearings in Kentucky happen very fast (usually within 14 days of the Petition begin taking out) and are not conducted like a normal trial. Here are some things you should know about the hearing process:
1. The Court will hear evidence from both the alleged victim and alleged abuser. The Court may also hear testimony from other witnesses that may appear.
2. You are not guaranteed an attorney in a Domestic Violence Hearing. The Court will not appoint you an attorney.
3. The standard of proof in a domestic violence hearing is low. The alleged victim does not need to convince the Court beyond a reasonable doubt that domestic violence occurred.
4. The alleged victim only needs to convince the Court that they were a victim of domestic violence and that it may continue in the future if they don’t get protection.
5. Typically the Court plans on a Domestic Violence Hearing lasting no longer than 15 minutes.
Domestic Violence Order
A Domestic Violence Order can be issued for up to three years at a time and there is no limitation on how many times it can be renewed, if the Court believes there is still a need for protection. A Domestic Violence Order can do the following:
1. Prevent the abuser from any contact with the victim and/or the victim’s family;
2. Prevent the abuser from committing further acts of Domestic Violence;
3. Prevent the abuser from disposing (selling) or damaging any property of the parties;
4. Order the abuser to vacate a house shared by the parties and other addresses identified by the victim;
5. Grant the victim temporary custody of the parties’ children;
6. Order the abuser to pay the victim temporary child support;
7. Order counseling for the abuser, usually anger management or a batters intervention program;
8. Prevent the abuser from owning or possessing all firearms for up to three (3) years. (Violation of this is a FEDERAL FELONY)