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Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse

By Maury D. Beaulier, Esq.



Domestic Abuse is a serious issue. Under Minnesota Statutes, domestic abuse is an offense that is carried out by an adult who is now or used to be married to the victim, who is a parent to the victim, who is unmarried to, but who lives or used to live with the victim, or who is parent to a minor or an unborn child. Despite the fact that the domestic abuse process is sometimes abused with fabrications occurring in order to gain advantage in family law proceedings, facts and statistics clearly indicate that strong laws are necessary.


SOME STATISTICS:

  • According to the United States Department of Justice during each year women were the victims of more than 4.5 million violent crimes, including approximately 500,000 rapes or other sexual assaults. In 29 percent of the violent crimes against women by lone offenders the perpetrators were intimates--husbands, former husbands, boyfriends or former boyfriends.  
  • A woman is beaten every 15 seconds. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Report to the nation on Crime and Justice. The Data. Washington DC Office of Justice Program, US Dept. of Justice. Oct 1983)  
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages 15 and 44 in the united States - more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991)  
  • Battered women are more likely to suffer miscarriages and to give birth to babies with low birth weights. (Surgeon General, United States, 1992).  
  • "One in five women victimized by their spouses or ex-spouses report they had been victimized over and over again by the same person." (The Basics of Batterer Treatment, Common Purpose, Inc., Jamaica Plain, MA)  
  • Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels, and ages are battered - by husbands, boyfriends, lovers and partners. (Surgeon General Antonia Novello, as quoted in Domestic Violence: Battered Women, publication of the Reference Department of the Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, MA)

OPTIONS

A victim can make a report of assault to police in order to have criminal charges filed. A victim may also file a civil suit seeking damages. This is true even if the abuser is a spouse.  Additionally, a victim may file for Order for Protection against the abuser.

ORDERS FOR PROTECTION (OFP)

An order for protection is a restraining order prohibiting the person accused of committing abuse from continuing the abuse. Often the Order for Protection will also include provisions limiting or prohibiting contact with the victims. This obviously becomes a difficult issue where minor children are involved.

PROCESS FOR OFP

The Requirements Orders for protection can be obtained at the county courthouse or at the county domestic abuse office in the county where the victim lives. Orders for Protection may also be drafted by attorneys or at battered women’s shelter or women’s centers. There is no fee for an order for protection, and the county is obligated to provide the public with assistance in completing the paperwork. For a court order to be granted, a petition must be supported with evidence of the alleged abuse. As a result, it is important to include specific facts regarding the abuse in your affidavit. If the petition is defective or if it fails to list sufficient allegations of abuse, the petition may be dismissed. You may wish to consult with a lawyer before completing your OFP petition.

A Petition for an Order for Protection may seek other relief in addition to a restraining order. Other common requests include seeking an order for restitution, requiring the abuser to attend counseling, and for child support and/or spousal maintenance.

TEMPORARY ORDERS

Once a Petition for an OFP has been filled out with a supporting affidavit, it is presented to the signing Judge on the same day. The signing Judge reviews the petition to determine if the allegations of abuse are sufficient to warrant the entry of an Temporary Order prohibiting contact between the parties until a hearing can be held. In cases where the parties live together, the alleged abuser may be served and required to leave the family home with little more than the clothes on his back.

FIRST APPEARANCE

After a Temporary Order is entered, an initial hearing will be scheduled and held within seven (7) days. Regardless of whether the accused person attends the court hearing, the abused person or his or her guardian must be present. At In most counties, the initial hearing allows the alleged abuser to either:





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