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Domestic Violence Victims Rights or False Allegations, You Are Protected
Whether you are a victim of domestic violence of accused falsely of committing an act of domestic violence, Georgia law provides protection. We want you to recognize that you have options and access to the justice system, and that you have more strength and courage within you to help you fight back and win than you have ever realized. No one deserves physical abuse, violence, or injury, and no one deserves to be a victim of the system by false accusations. Therefore, when people come to us to seek legal protections from domestic violence, we fight hard for them with compassion and understanding.
We know that time and confidentiality can be critical factors when it comes to obtaining temporary protective orders for our clients. Our meetings with clients are always confidential. Moreover, as a small law firm, we have the flexibility to respond quickly when you or your children are in danger. In the alternative, if you are falsely accused of committing an act of domestic violence and blocked from having access to your children, we are able to respond through the court system quickly to secure a court date to defend the claim. Temporary protective orders can be an effective way to protect you and your children, and make sure that an abuser stays out of your home. It means that your abuser may face serious legal consequences if he or she comes near you.
What is Family Violence?
The Georgia Code 19-13-1 defines family violence as certain kinds of crimes between people who have certain relationships to each other. The kinds of crimes include battery, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, criminal trespass and any felony. The people must be connected to each other as past or present spouses, parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren or other persons living or formerly living in the same household. If the crime is stalking, the people do not have to have any relationship or connection to each other.
How Can a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) Help You?
A temporary protective order (TPO) is a court order to help protect you from someone who is abusing, threatening or harassing you. The order will require the abuser to stay away from you, your home and your work. The abuser will be prohibited from contacting you in any way. The court can also order the abuser to stay away from your children if the court feels they are at risk. The court can also order other kinds of relief in the Temporary Protective Order, such as temporary custody, support and possession of vehicles, and property. If you secure a Temporary Protective Order, this does not mean the abuser goes to jail. The Temporary Protective Order makes it easier for the police to arrest the abuser for coming near you later, even if the abuser does not hurt you again.
How to Get a Temporary Protective Order
There must be a recent threat or act of physical violence or stalking. The Temporary Protective Order must be filed in the county where the abuser resides. If the abuser lives out of state, the Temporary Protective Order may be filed in the Georgia County were you live or where the violence occurred. You will need to go to the Superior Clerk's office and tell the clerk or local advocate division you want to file for a temporary protective order. They will give you the paperwork to complete. You must know the abuser's name and current work and/or home address. The clerk or advocate will then show your paperwork to a judge. You must be ready to tell the judge about the violence that has occurred. The judge will want to know if you believe the abuse will continue. If the judge grants you a Temporary Protective Order, the Sheriff's Office will serve the abuser with a copy of the order typically the same day. A hearing will be held within 30 days so the judge can hear from both sides. You must attend the hearing or your order will expire (come to an end). At the hearing, the judge will decide if the Temporary Protective Order should be extended for up to 12 months. The court can also decide other issues such as temporary custody and support for your children or you and substance abuse treatment for your abuser.
If there is a new threat of violence or other good reason, you can go back to court before the Temporary Protective Order expires and ask that the order be extended or made permanent. To victims of domestic violence, I say, think of yourself as strong, not weak. Remember the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, "We are like tea bags -they never know how strong they are until we get into hot water."
Fighting False Allegations of Abuse
Sadly, it is not uncommon for people to allege domestic violence as a strategic way to gain an edge in divorce proceedings. Dedicated to ethics in the practice of law, Coleman & Chambers, LLP fights aggressively make sure that false allegations do not result in the court granting a temporary protective order. So, when you have been falsely accused of abuse, we stand by you in hearings with a strong defense to inform the court of the truth.
Contact Information for Victims of Domestic Violence
If you are a victim of domestic violence please immediately contact 911 to seek emergency assistance. You may also follow this with a call to your local shelter.
Cornelia: Circle of Hope, Inc.: Crisis Line: (706) 776-4673
Cumming: Forsyth County Family Haven, Inc.: Crisis Line: (770) 887-1121
Dahlonega: NOA's Ark, Inc.: Crisis Line: (706) 864-1986
Gainesville: Gateway House, Inc.: Crisis Line: (770) 536-5860
Hartwell: Northeast Georgia Council on Domestic Violence: Crisis Line: (706) 376-7111
Gwinnett County: Partnership Against Domestic Violence: (770) 806-8873
Gwinnett County Superior Court: (770) 822-8100
National Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Domestic Violence Statewide Referral Hotline: 1-800-334-2836 (connects you directly to the nearest shelter)
Catholic Social Services, (404) 881-6571
Atlanta Legal Aid Society Hispanic Outreach Project: (404) 377-5381
St. Joseph's Mercy Mobile: (404) 880-3553
International Women's House: (404) 880-3553
Georgia recognizes a common law marriage if the couple was united before Jan. 1, 1997.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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