Domestic Violence Victim's Assistance
The Domestic Violence Victim Assistance Program provides legal representation to victims of domestic violence to obtain a civil Protective Order against their abuser. This service is provided free of charge, regardless of the applicant's income or citizenship status. Victims who need a Protective Order can go to one of our two Courthouse offices on a walk-in basis where Legal Aid staff meet with the petitioner, determine appropriate cause for seeking a Protective Order, prepare legal documents, file the documents with the court clerk, obtain an emergency Ex Parte Protective Order from a signing judge which includes a hearing date, and deliver the legal documents to the Sheriff's Office for service on the respondent.
The Ex Parte Protective Order is in effect, protecting the petitioner, from the time the respondent is served until the hearing date. At the hearing, Legal Aid attorneys represent the petitioner in seeking a Protective Order against the respondent who is often represented by a private attorney. Once the Protective Order is granted by the court, Legal Aid staff ensures that it is served on the respondent at the hearing or through the Sheriff's Office.
Protective Orders can include provisions which prohibit the respondent from harming or threatening harm to petitioner and members of petitioner's family, from going to the petitioner's residence, place of employment, or school, and even from having any contact whatsoever with the petitioner. These provisions, if violated, are a criminal offense and the orders remain in effect indefinitely. Protective Orders can also include "civil" provisions such as custody of children, visitation, child support, allocation of needed personal property, and possession of the residence. However, the "civil" provisions are only in effect for 150 days.
Civil Stalking Injunction Program
Legal Aid's Domestic Violence staff represents individuals who are being abused or threatened by a non-cohabitant in obtaining a civil stalking injunction. The injunctions can order the offender to stay away from the Petitioner and family members at home, employment and other places and are effective upon service on the respondent. There is a court hearing only if the respondent requests one, and the injunctions have a duration of three years.