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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70155 Find in a Library
Title: Legal Help for Battered Women
Author(s): L G Lerman
Corporate Author: Ctr for Women Policy Studies
United States of America

National Clearinghouse on Domestic Violence
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: Ctr for Women Policy Studies
Washington, DC 20036
National Clearinghouse on Domestic Violence
Rockville, MD 20852
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
US Dept of Justice
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 79-TA-AX-0024
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Recent developments in the laws affecting battered women and problems encountered in implementing these new laws are discussed; the legal system and specific remedies are emphasized.
Abstract: During the past few years almost every State has made new legal remedies available to abused women, including laws which strengthen both civil and criminal penalties. In every State, civil and criminal laws are enforced by different courts. The civil court settles disputes between individuals and compensates for injuries. The court may order payment of money to the injured party or order the defendant to refrain from committing certain acts. Violation of the law must be proven by a 'preponderance of evidence.' The purpose of the criminal court is to punish acts which are disruptive to the social order and to deter similar acts. Conviction in criminal court may result in a jail sentence, a fine, an order to pay the victim, or probation. Violation of the law must be proven 'beyond a reasonable doubt.' Specific remedies are available under both civil and criminal laws. Several forms of civil relief which are available to battered women include protection orders, Peace Bonds, divorce or separation, child custody and visitation rights, alimony and child support, and money damages for personal injury. Individual circumstances determine the appropriate remedy or remedies. Spouse abuse is a crime, subject to criminal prosecution in every State. Because all States have laws prohibiting physical assault, these may be enforced against abusers where there has been physical violence or threat of violence. Some States have enacted laws which make spouse abuse a separate criminal offense. The State will file criminal charges following either arrest by the police or the statement of a private criminal complaint if subsequent investigation indicates that the charge should be filed. In many cases, it is inappropriate to file charges because the evidence is insufficient to make conviction likely. In such cases the prosecutor may advise the victim of other legal options, issue a warning letter to the abuser, or meet with both victim and abuser to discuss the complaint. Legal action is only one of many options available to battered women. Other action in addition to getting help from the courts includes medical care, shelter, and counseling.
Index Term(s): Battered wives; Domestic assault; Females; Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA)
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