1. What is the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act?
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act applies to a person 18 years of age or older or a person who is an emancipated minor that has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or any other person who is a present or former household member. A "victim of domestic violence" also includes any person, regardless of age, who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has a child, or with whom the victim anticipates having a child, if one of the parties is pregnant. "Victim of domestic violence" also includes any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship. This means you are a victim of domestic violence if you or the abuser are the parents of any children, whether or not you have ever lived together; you are pregnant with the abuser's child; you and the abuser now live together or have lived together in the past; or you and the abuser now have or did have, at one time, a dating relationship. You and the abuser do not have to be married or girlfriend/boyfriend. He or she can be a family member, your gay or lesbian partner, your roommate, your caretaker, or any other adult who lives with you now or has lived with you.
2. How do I know if I am a victim of domestic violence under this law?
You are a victim of domestic violence if you have experienced any of the following from a person who is over the age of 18 or an emancipated minor: 1. beatings or physical attacks such as kicking, slapping, punching, pushing, hair pulling, or any other physical attack in any other way that causes you harm or fear of harm; 2. threats that make you fear serious injury to yourself or your children (example: "When I come home I'm going to kick you, punch the kids, hurt you."); 3. threats that make you fear for your life (example: "If you don't do what I tell you to do, I'm going to kill you."); 4. imprisonment within your own home or at another location (example: A person locks you in your home, in a room, in a closet, in an automobile, for any period of time); 5. kidnaping (example: You are taken against your will from your home, place of business, or anywhere else and not permitted to leave.); 6. sexually assaulted where you are forced to have sexual contact or raped under threats of harm to yourself or someone else. This can also include unwanted sexual touching or if the perpetrator exposes his genitals.; 7. damage to your personal property; 8. forced entry into your home, with or without a weapon; 9. theft of your personal belongings; 10. threats against you with a weapon such as a gun, knife, machete, baseball bat, or any other object that you feel can harm you; 11. repeated verbal humiliation and attacks (example: A person calls you obscene names, or calls you stupid, ignorant, dumb, ugly, or other disrespectful names); 12. stalking you by actions done more than one time that include maintaining you in his sight, repeatedly being in physical proximity to you, repeatedly conveying verbal or written threats or threats implied by his actions, or all of these actions, and these actions cause you to fear bodily injury to you or a member of your family or to fear the death of you or a member of your family.
3. Will anyone be arrested?
A police officer must arrest the person you state perpetrated the acts of domestic violence against you, even if you do not want her/him arrested and even if you do not want to file a complaint against the person who committed these acts, if: (1) you exhibit any signs of injury; (2) the perpetrator has violated a previous Domestic Violence Restraining Order; (3) there is probable cause that a weapon has been involved in the commission of the act of domestic violence; (4) there is a warrant for the abuser's arrest on any other charge. A police officer may arrest the person who committed the act of domestic violence against you if you exhibit no visible signs of injury but you have told him/her what happened and have advised him/her that an injury has occurred. The injuries could be internal and painful or the injury could be on an area of your body that you do not feel comfortable exposing to the officer. If you act with reasonable force to protect yourself from the attacker, and you and the attacker both show signs of injury, you should not be arrested or charged with a domestic violence offense. The officer at the scene should consider the nature and extent of the injuries, along with any previous history of reported domestic violence incidents. It is very important for you to tell the police officer if weapons were used to injure you or threaten you, and where the weapons are located. It is very important for you to tell the police officer what happened, what your injuries are and if there were previous acts of domestic violence against you by your attacker or previous reports of attacks, or if there is a Domestic Violence Order already in place.
4. What if a weapon was used during an act of domestic violence?
If a police officer at the scene has reason to believe a weapon was used during an act of domestic violence, the officer must arrest the suspect and seize any weapons on the premises that could expose you to further harm. The officer must also sign a criminal complaint in this instance. Seized weapons are turned over to the county prosecutor's office. If the prosecutor does not institute a legal action within 45 days to retain the weapon(s) seized, they may be returned to the owner.Continue Reading