How Laws Against Domestic Violence Protect Your Family

Domestic violence can be frightening and embarrassing for everyone involved.  By definition, domestic violence refers to an act (or the threat of an act) intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, or sexual assault toward an adult or child living in the same home.  If you’ve been the victim of domestic violence, or worry that you could be, you should know that laws against domestic violence are in place to help you and your family.  You should also know that the abuser doesn’t have to be living in your home in order for there to be a charge of domestic violence.  Dating violence is also treated seriously under Texas law, and can include acts by someone that you are in a dating relationship with.

According to Texas laws against domestic violence, criminal and civil cases might be filed simultaneously for the same act of violence.  This may seem confusing, but both civil and criminal cases can help protect victims and families.  A criminal law case involves the abuser being arrested and prosecuted for the crime of domestic abuse.  This means that a district attorney decides whether to proceed with a case.  Civil law is different, in that the victim is looking to be protected from the abuser without filing, regardless of any criminal charges against them.

Laws against domestic violence often allow for protective orders against abusers.  Emergency protection orders can be issued in extreme circumstances.  Protective orders can apply to a current or former partner, even a same-sex partner, and may also be extended to minors in a dating relationship.  Protective orders may be permanent or temporary, and may include a provision for the abuser to challenge the order after one year (or if they are in prison, one year after their release date).  It’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer who has experience with domestic violence cases.  Domestic violence can be frightening, but understanding all your options can be a tremendous help.

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