It’s an unfortunate reality in Kansas that thousands of people experience domestic violence each year. Domestic violence takes many forms and often leads to complex legal proceedings. Some of these proceedings unfold in the criminal court system as the perpetrator faces punishment for breaking Kansas law, and the remaining proceedings will proceed through the family court system.
Domestic violence cases often carry strong implications for divorce, child custody disputes, and various other issues handled by the family court. If you have recently experienced domestic violence, it’s vital to know what steps you must take to protect yourself and prevent further harm. You must also be prepared to address your experiences in related family court proceedings. Finally, if you have been accused of domestic violence, you need to know how Kansas law enforcement will handle the issue and recognize the value of legal representation you can trust as you build a defense.
Understanding Domestic Violence in Kansas
The term “domestic violence” applies to various crimes that involve members of the same family or household. For example, if a person assaults and physically harms another person in a public place or on private property, this would likely constitute assault and battery. However, if the perpetrator and the victim are members of the same family or live together, it would qualify as domestic battery. The relationship between the perpetrator and the victim can potentially escalate the punishment for the incident. Additionally, domestic violence charges have legal implications that extend beyond the criminal justice system.
Under Kansas state law, domestic violence may occur between:
- Current and former spouses.
- Current and former domestic partners.
- Parents/stepparents and children/stepchildren.
- Roommates and housemates.
- Co-parents, either divorced or unmarried and separated.
- Extended family members.
When domestic violence occurs, and the victim calls the police, the police have a legal duty to prevent further harm by removing the alleged abuser from the situation. If the alleged abuser was wrongfully accused, this could seem unfair and one-sided. However, they must still comply with the instructions of the police and the terms of any temporary protective orders issued by the Wichita family court.
Common Types of Domestic Violence
If an incident qualifies as domestic violence, the party who committed the violent act would likely face a wide range of possible penalties depending on the severity of the offense. For example, domestic battery can qualify as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the offense and the level of harm inflicted on the victim. Penalties include fines and jail time in proportion to the severity of the offense.
Domestic violence can also apply to sexual abuse and sexual battery. The penalties for these offenses are typically severe, especially if the victim is a minor. The offender could face many years in prison, restitution to the victim, and permanent or long-term status as a registered sex offender. Sex offender registration will prevent them from working in certain places of employment or living in certain areas, such as close to schools.
In Kansas, physical abuse, sexual abuse, threats and intimidation, harassment, and stalking can all qualify as domestic violence. When these incidents occur, victims must acknowledge the value of legal representation as they work toward holding their abusers accountable.
Protective Orders and Family Court Considerations
A protective order is one of the most important legal tools available for anyone who has experienced domestic violence. If you report domestic violence to the police, they can assist you in securing a temporary protective order against the abuser. This order prevents them from contacting you or coming in close contact with you or your children. The order will include a hearing date, and during this hearing, the judge will determine whether to make the order permanent.
Domestic violence may lead to a divorce or child custody dispute, which may also occur during an ongoing divorce case. Domestic violence can have severe implications in the family court system, whatever the situation may entail. A parent who engages in domestic violence may lose their custody rights, especially if they harm a child. A protective order will typically protect the victim and everyone else in their household. The penalties for violation of a protective order or preventing domestic violence reporting can be severe.
Beyond penalties assigned in criminal court, the offender faces a wide range of additional consequences for their actions. They may owe restitution to the victim as part of their criminal sentencing, but the victim may also have grounds for a civil claim to pursue damages their actions caused. In addition, the victim may seek compensation for medical expenses, property damage, and their pain and suffering. When it comes to family law, domestic violence is sure to influence any ongoing case, and in many situations, domestic violence will generate new family court cases.
An experienced attorney can help you ensure that your experience receives appropriate attention from the Wichita family court. Kansas also offers a unique emergency divorce option that can allow you to secure a formal divorce much faster than is usually allowed. Most Wichita family court judges are willing to grant emergency divorces when the petitioner has been the victim of domestic abuse and needs the financial support that a divorce order would provide.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
While it’s technically possible to secure a temporary protective order and enter your hearing unassisted, it’s best to have an experienced family law attorney represent you when you have been the victim of domestic violence. Your legal team can help you ensure you can take full advantage of all the legal options. In addition, they can significantly streamline your family court proceedings and prepare you to testify as a witness in criminal court if this is required.
Domestic violence can be a traumatic experience, and resolving the legal issues that domestic violence commonly generates can be very difficult without the guidance and support that only a family law attorney can provide. Therefore, if you have experienced domestic violence or have been accused of committing any domestic violence, it’s vital to consult a Wichita family law attorney as soon as possible.