Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a form of abuse involving the use of physical aggression, or coercion that causes injury to  a spouse, partner, child or other family member. Here you will find a variety of information about domestic violence, including a general overview of domestic violence laws, state specific laws, and common questions and answers related to domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Laws & Penalties

  • Domestic Violence Laws and PenaltiesDomestic violence is a violent act committed against a person in a domestic relationship whom the law protects from assault, such as a spouse, a relative, or a dating or sexual partner. Some states also classify threats to commit violent acts against protected persons as domestic violence.
  • Differentiating Between Domestic Violence and Abuse“Domestic violence” and “domestic abuse” are used in news stories to refer to incidents or allegations of physical violence committed between people who are married, who live together, or are who are dating.
  • Falsely Accused of Domestic ViolenceDomestic violence (DV) is a crime of violence, typically an assault, battery, stalking, or criminal harassment, perpetrated by someone against a family or household member. Some states have specific statutes that are separate from the general assault statutes.

Questions & Answers About Domestic Violence

  • When parents physically discipline their children, does this amount to domestic violence?Domestic violence laws target physical abuse that occurs between family members, people who live in the same home, and people in romantic, sexual, or dating relationships. Parents and children fall within states’ definitions of “family members” to whom these laws apply.
  • Can the police be sued for improperly investigating a domestic violence claim?Many states have laws that place specific duties on law enforcement officers who investigate allegations of domestic violence. State laws also protect officers who perform domestic violence investigations from being charged with a crime or being sued by suspects, victims, or witnesses.
  • My husband was arrested for domestic violence. Can I get the prosecutor to drop the charges?My husband got into an argument and things got out of hand. I want the charges dropped because I don’t want this to cause an issue with his employment and I think we can work it out. Is it possible?
  • Can Someone Be Prosecuted for Domestic Violence Even if the Victim Refuses to Testify at Trial?A prosecutor can continue prosecuting a defendant even though the alleged victim cannot be compelled to testify. Whether the prosecutor will want to go forward with prosecuting a defendant when the alleged victim-spouse invokes the privilege to avoid testifying is another matter.
  • What are the consequences of pleading “no contest” to a charge of domestic violence?A nolo contendere or “no contest” plea is a plea entered by a defendant to a criminal charge. By pleading nolo contendere or no contest, the defendant does not admit the criminal charge but chooses not to contest it.
  • In domestic violence cases, are female defendants treated more leniently than male defendants?Despite popular belief, there’s no evidence to back up a claim that female offenders systematically receive more lenient treatment.
  • Can Spouses Be Forced to Testify Against One Another?“Privilege” has a special meaning under the law: protection from being forced to testify about communications between yourself and a person with whom you have a special relationship, such as a spouse.

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