If you are a victim of domestic violence seeking legal advice for a family law matter, our law firm can help you. We work with victims of sexual assault and family violence get the protective orders they need while settling legal matters such as divorce, child custody, and restraining orders against family members. Contact our domestic violence lawyers in Houston today to take the first step in obtaining a protective order in Harris County.
Domestic violence is a catch-all term for violent acts or threats that occur between people who have a particular kind of relationship. They may be married, living together, or even just dating. They may share a child in common. They may be family. They may be heterosexual, lesbian, or gay. While anyone can become a perpetrator or victim, serious domestic violence injuries typically result from males attacking females. Though murder and rape can be forms of it, domestic violence often consists of lesser forms of physical abuse, such as slapping and pushing. Stalking can also be a form of domestic violence. (Some use “domestic violence” to describe abuse against children, too.)
Is There a Crime Called “Domestic Violence”?
Many states define domestic violence as a distinct crime. So, for example, someone who strikes a significant other could be charged with a form of domestic violence instead of (or in addition to) other crimes like assault and battery.
Recognizing that domestic abusers take advantage of their victims’ trust and confidence, prosecutors often push for harsher sentences in domestic violence cases. A prosecutor might, for example, want more jail time for someone who attacked a spouse than for someone who did the same to a stranger. And domestic violence sentences typically include special protections for past (and potential) targets. For example, the conviction of a crime of domestic violence may entail a mandatory jail sentence and some type of restraining order (more on this below). Identifying a crime as one of domestic violence often allows judges to order abusers to participate in therapeutic counseling.
Here’s an example of a state that defines domestic violence as a distinct crime: In Wisconsin, “domestic abuse” is any of the following acts committed against a spouse or former spouse, an adult the defendant lives or used to live with, or an adult with whom the defendant has a child in common:
- intentionally inflicting physical pain, physical injury, or illness
- intentionally impairing a physical condition
- sexual assault, or
- a physical act that may cause the victim reasonably to fear the imminent occurrence of any of the above.
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