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Family abuse: You can defend yourself against allegations

Family abuse can be defined in many ways, but generally speaking, it involves any act in which force, violence or threats result in physical injury or the fear of physical injury against someone in your household. Family household members include anyone you live with in your home and anyone you have lived with within the last year. Children of those you lived with as well as ex-spouses and spouses may also be victims of family abuse.

Family abuse falls under both civil and criminal law. As such, a case may head to criminal or civil court depending on the circumstances. Civil cases usually begin if a person is seeking out a protective order. Criminal courts become involved if the person accused of violence is jailed or charged with a crime.

Criminal cases also involve stalking and arrests. Whenever someone is arrested, it becomes a criminal investigation into the alleged assault. Stalking may also be penalized and treated as a criminal act.

In civil courts, there are a few kinds of protective orders a person can seek including an emergency protective order, preliminary protective order and protective order. Each one lasts for a different length of time but aims to protect those who may have been victims of domestic violence.

If you've been accused of domestic violence, it's important to understand that a protective order can be used against you, even if you've done nothing wrong. Your attorney can help you fight back, so you can see your children and protect your reputation from any further damage than it has already suffered.

Source: Virginia's Judicial System, "Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court: Domestic Violence or Family Abuse," accessed Sep. 06, 2017

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