What Are My Legal Options?
Violence often starts or increases when you break up with an abusive partner. The justice system can help protect you. If you’re in immediate danger, call the police. Also, try to keep any evidence of the abuse you’re experiencing.
Criminal vs. Civil Justice System
The criminal and civil justice systems provide different options for legal protection. In the criminal system, your abusive partner may be charged with a crime. Once charges are filed, the prosecutor alone makes the decisions about your case, including whether or not your case will go forward or be dismissed. You will be subpoenaed, which means you’ll be required to appear and testify in court. If convicted, the abuser may be jailed or placed on probation.
You access the criminal justice system by calling the police or filing a police report. They’ll take control from there. On the other hand, you access the civil justice system by going to the courthouse and filing some paperwork. You’ll have to follow up to make sure they take action on your request.
In the civil justice system, you can obtain a protection order. In this system, you make all the decisions regarding your case instead of the prosecutor. Also, your abusive partner does not face criminal charges unless he or she violates your protection order. A protection or restraining order is a FREE court order that a judge can issue to protect you from an abusive dating partner. This document can order your current or ex-partner to:
- Not contact you in any way, even through a third person or technology.
- Stay away from you and locations where you are.
- Stay away from the family and friends you name in the order.
- Stay away from you at school, work and anywhere else you go often.
- Move out of your shared home.
- Attend alcohol treatment, drug treatment or counseling.
- Pay your legal costs or for other harm you suffered.
- Give you temporary custody of your children.
Please note: we are not legal advocates at loveisrespect, so we’re unable to give you specific legal advice. However, we can locate a legal advocate in your area who can help. Call, chat or text with us!