Domestic Violence Injunctions
A domestic violence injunction can be filed by a family or household member who has reasonable cause to believe they are at immediate risk of being abused or have been abused by another family or household member.
It is important to know that the “immediate” part of the risk is also vital. The risk of danger or threat has to be imminent. There has to be probable action not just mere words. The courts listen to all evidence presented before it, both words and actions to determine what is and what is not an immediate risk.
“Reasonable cause” means that the petitioner must have objective evidence to support the notion that he or she is at risk of facing domestic violence. The evidence could be a history of violent encounters between both parties in the past, any violent threats made by the respondent, or if any prior situation has led to law enforcement been called to the scene.
Defining “Family or Household Member”
Family or Household Member extends to the following:
- Current or former spouses
- Individuals related by blood
- Individuals related by marriage
- Individuals related by other legal means (guardianship, adoptions, etc.)
- Any persons with a child in common
- Any persons who share a single dwelling unit like a family
Defining Abuse or Domestic Violence
Domestic violence or abuse can be in the form of the following directed at the petitioner, the petitioner’s family, or the petitioner’s associates (i.e. friends or coworkers):
- Aggravated assault or battery
- Sexual assault or battery
- Any criminal offense that leads to physical harm, or death
- Intentionally inflicting injury or causing death to petitioner’s pet
- Attempting to inflict harm to the petitioner or persons closely associated with the petitioner
- Threatening to inflict harm to or kidnap the petitioner’s children
- Threatening or using dangerous weapons
- Destroying personal property or items owned by petitioner
- Any other threatening behavior
A domestic violence injunction is easy to obtain and can be acquired from the court circuits where the domestic violence happened or where the petitioner resides.
When seeking a Domestic Violence Injunction, the petitioner must describe the nature of the relationship between him/her and the respondent. Secondly, the person filing for the petition must have a reasonable cause to believe he or she is at the risk of domestic violence. Lastly, the petitioner must either be a victim of domestic violence or must have reasonable cause to believe he or she is at immediate risk of domestic violence.
Injunction forms are available in Circuit Courts and the court’s staff are required by law to assist in filling the forms. A domestic violence injunction is free to file. The petitioner fills out the form under oath that all information provided is accurate. Lying or providing false information means the petitioner may be charged with perjury.
Both the petitioner and the respondent may choose to have an attorney represent them.