One of the lesser-known aspects of our family law practice area is the issue of domestic violence, and the legal ways in which people can seek protection from their attackers. Under the umbrella of family law, domestic violence is not about pursuing criminal charges against someone, but rather, it is more about the civil aspects of obtaining protection and filing a lawsuit.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Most people would define domestic violence as a husband physically abusing his wife, or a boyfriend physically abusing his girlfriend. But the truth is that domestic violence is much broader than that, and is a pattern of abuse that is designed to dominate, intimidate and control another person.
Domestic abuse is not always physical, and includes emotional abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, and sexual abuse. And the victims are not only women who are in bad relationships, but also children, siblings and other family members.
In the past, domestic abuse was not taken as seriously when it came to criminal prosecution, but that has changed, and there are now criminal statutes against domestic abuse, as well as harsh penalties for any person convicted of abusing someone. Victims of domestic abuse also have the right to sue their attackers in civil court to obtain compensation for medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
How Restraining Orders Work In Domestic Violence Situations
Restraining orders are a legal way that victims of domestic violence can seek protection against their abusers. In Colorado, domestic violence restraining orders are known as protection orders and they provide protection against:
- Any abuser who is related to victim by blood or marriage
- Any abuser who has live with victim in the past or lives with victim now
- Any abuser with whom victim has had a romantic relationship
Once a victim files the protection order with the court, the abuser cannot be present within a specified distance of the victim. Violating a protection order is a criminal offense, which can lead to arrest and a finding of contempt of court, which carries a stiff fine and a possible jail sentence.
And if the person commits another crime while violating the protection order, he or she may also face criminal charges for that behavior as well.
What Is a Domestic Violence Lawsuit?
Some victims of domestic violence may choose to sue their abuser in a civil court. In Colorado, victims can sue for what is known as an ‘intentional tort,’ which includes battery and assault. And if an attacker stalked or threatened a victim, or damaged the victim’s property, the victim can sue that person for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
A domestic violence civil suit can provide victims with a legal weapon to use against someone who has tried to take control of their lives. Victims who file domestic violence lawsuits are eligible to recoup damages that include:
- Medical Bills
- Lost wages and Loss of Future Income
- Pain and Suffering
In some states, claimants are also eligible for punitive damages, which can send a powerful message that domestic abuse will not be tolerated.
It’s important to remember, however, that filing this type of suit means that victims will have to confront their abusers in court, and that can be a very difficult thing to do. In addition, victims must assess whether their abusers have the financial resources to pay for damages.
The Guidance of An Experienced Family Lawyer
If you’re caught up in a domestic violence situation and you need legal help, please take advantage of a free consultation with the experienced and compassionate attorneys at Kinnaird & Kinnaird, P.C. We can help you obtain a protection order that best matches your circumstances, and advise you about the merits of a domestic violence lawsuit.