When a family dispute occurs, many things happen. In most cases, all parties cool off and make up with one another. However, in situations where emotions run high, certain behavior may require legal intervention in the form of a family offense petition.
What is a Family Offense Petition?
Filed by an attorney when a family member claims another family member committed certain acts against them or another family member, a family offense petition covers a number of alleged acts, including:
–Assault or attempted assault
For a family offense petition to be filed, the people involved must meet the legal criteria of “family members.” In most instances, “family members” are defined as those who are related by blood or marriage, those who have been previously married, and those people who are unrelated yet do have a child together.
What Happens When a Family Offense Petition is Filed?
Once a family offense petition is filed, many things are set in motion. To begin with, once the petition is filed, the petitioner has the right to have a court appearance that same day. If at that court appearance the judge determines there is “good cause,” a temporary order of protection, along with one for child support if needed, will be issued. Because the orders are temporary, they last only until the date the person accused of the abuse, known as the respondent, appears in court. This date will be determined by the judge, who will then issue a summons requesting the respondent to appear in court, where they can admit the allegations are true, deny them, or consent to the order of protection being entered.
Which Courts Issue Family Offense Petitions?
In most of these cases, a Family Court will issue the family offense petition. However, if none of these courts are in session, a Criminal Court can issue the order under extreme circumstances. If the respondent chooses to deny the allegations, a judge will then conduct a fact-finding hearing in an attempt to determine if the allegations are true. If after this hearing the judge determines nothing occurred, the case is dismissed. However, if the allegations are found to be true, a dispositional hearing is then held.
Before the dispositional hearing is held and a dispositional order is issued, the judge usually adjourns court so that an inquiry can be made into the surroundings, capacities, and conditions of the people involved. However, once the dispositional hearing is held, the dispositional order can contain a number of stipulations, which can include placing the respondent on probation up to one year, suspending judgement for six months, ordering payment of up to $10,000 restitution, and making a final order of protection effective for up to five years. In addition, the final order may contain many requirements the respondent must abide by, such as:
–Pay petitioner’s medical bills for abuse-related injuries
–Staying away from petitioner and their children
–Participation in a treatment program for battery and/or substance abuse
–Staying away from petitioner’s employer and children’s school
–Refrain from injuring or killing any pets owned by petitioner and children
–Paying legal fees of the petitioner
In addition to these requirements, the final order of protection may also include a time when the respondent will be allowed to remove personal property from the residence, as well as times when visits with children may be permitted, assuming the court deems the children will be safe during these visits.
Violating the Order of Protection
If a respondent violates the order of protection, certain consequences usually result. Once the petitioner filed a violation petition and the violation is confirmed, the court will modify the protective order, and sentence the respondent up to 6 months in jail for each violation. Along with this, the case may be transferred to Criminal Court if the violations put the petitioner and/or their children at risk of physical harm, and the court can revoke or suspend a respondent’s firearms license, as well as force them to turn over any firearms they possess. In any case, it’s important to remember than all parties involved do still have the right to retain attorneys during these matters.
Todd is a miracle worker who will work tirelessly for you and your family. He is one of the few attorneys i've met - who I earnestly trust to protect me, and who I am happy to refer to our friends and fellow family members. The Spodek Law Group is someone you want on your side, because they will treat you just like family. Todd and his team are available 24/7, and they always answered our calls. Even when we were being irrational, and crazy - they were calm and super helpful. Just call Todd. He gives you a free consultation and is very understanding.- Donna & Robert
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