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Domestic Violence & Law Enforcement
Contact the Police
When a police officer arrives, describe what happened. Tell the officer about any injuries such as bruises, cuts, redness, or tender areas. Also let the officer know if anyone else witnessed the incident and can support your statement. The officer will decide if there is enough evidence to make an arrest.

If arrested, the offender will be taken away and secured until appearing before a judge who will determine the terms and conditions of the release.

Once an offense is referred to the courts for action, you, the victim, will be kept informed of all aspects of the proceedings according to the victims' rights law. Victims of crime are encouraged to participate in the judicial process.

The penalties for an offender found guilty of domestic violence related crime vary greatly. The court may be able to order the offender into a counseling program to begin breaking the cycle of violence.

Protection Order
A final step to safeguarding you and your family against repeat violence is to ask for an protection order. A protection order may be issued by the court. It is worth the effort and gives the police a useful tool in helping you.

An protection order is an official court document notifying the offender that he or she has been placed under specific restrictions. For example, the offender may be ordered not to commit any further acts of violence, to stay away from your home, school, or work place, not to harass you or other members of your family in any way. Other restrictions can be applied as needed to conform the order to your specific situation.

Once your request for an protection order has been processed and filed, the order is served on the offender. Once served, he or she has the right to protest the action in a hearing before a judge if application for the hearing is made according to instructions and within the time limits imposed. You have the right to protest this action and have the right to bring witnesses to the hearing to testify in your behalf.

When a protection order has been served on the defendant, he or she is prohibited by law from violating it. If the defendant disobeys the order, he or she can be arrested for this violation in addition to any other crimes committed.

Always keep a certified copy of the order itself, which shows that the defendant received the order. The sheriff's office in the county in which the plaintiff resides keeps records of all current orders. However, if you do need to call the police to report a violation, it will save time if you have these copies handy to show the officer. It is possible that the computer records are a few weeks behind, so if you have just served the order there may be no record yet. For this reason, it is wise to keep a certified copy of the order.