Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is defined in the Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 403.720 as physical injury, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical injury, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, or assault between family members or members of an unmarried couple.

A family member may include a current or former spouse, grandparent, parent, child, stepchild, or any other person living in the same household as a child if the child is the alleged victim. A member of an unmarried couple refers to a member of an unmarried couple which allegedly has a child in common, any children of that couple, or a member of an unmarried couple who are living together or have formerly lived together. The Kentucky Legislature recently passed legislation extending protection to dating relationships.

Domestic violence offenders are subject to increased penalties beyond those to which non-domestic violence offenders are subject. Repeat offenders may be subject to enhanced jail or prison time. Furthermore, violations of emergency protective orders can lead to criminal sanctions.

An example of enhanced penalties for domestic violence is Assault in the Fourth Degree. A non-domestic offender charged with Assault in the Fourth Degree faces no more than 365 days of incarceration per assault. However, a person who commits a third or subsequent Assault in the Fourth Degree faces additional penalties if the victim in each case was a family member or member of an unmarried couple. That person may be charged with a Class D felony which carries one to five years in prison.

The Courts regularly issue Emergency Protective Orders (EPO) to individuals petitioning for a domestic violence order. When an EPO is issued, the Respondent (or alleged abuser) may not be aware of the issuance. The EPO may prohibit the Respondent from communicating with the Petitioner and/or minor children, order that the Respondent vacate a shared residence, prohibit the Respondent from disposing of property, and more. An EPO is meant to protect the Petitioner temporarily pending an evidentiary domestic violence hearing in front of a family court judge.

After the evidentiary hearing, if the Family Court determines that domestic violence has occurred and may occur again, a domestic violence order (DVO) will be issued. The DVO may last up to three years. The Petitioner may later petition the court to extend the order beyond that time. Like an EPO, a DVO is a civil order that places prohibitions on the Respondent that the Court deems necessary to prevent domestic violence. Further, individuals who are the subject of an active DVO or EPO are prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm. The Family Court often orders the offender to participate in treatment programs such as Batterer’s Intervention and Anger Management.

While DVOs and EPOs are civil court orders, violations of EPOs and DVOs may be pursued criminally. The act of violating the EPO or DVO is considered criminal in and of itself. The defendant may also be charged criminally for other acts associated with the violation.

Our attorneys represent clients in domestic violence cases in both family and criminal court. We represent individuals accused of domestic violence as well as those seeking court ordered protection. Our participation and experience in domestic violence hearings provide us with the knowledge and understanding needed to provide sound advice and skilled advocacy in this area.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us to set up a free consultation.

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