A domestic violence law is any statute that punishes people who cause physical or emotional harm to family members or anyone they share a close relationship with, says HG.org. The majority of domestic violence cases are prosecuted under state law, but federal legislation also makes domestic violence a crime.
A domestic violence law commonly uses a broad definition of both the relationship between a perpetrator and a victim, as well as the nature of the violence, explains HG.org. Actions or behavior that cause physical harm, or make people fear for their safety, could be considered domestic violence. Dating relationships are recognized by domestic violence laws, as are past and present family members and any household members. These crimes are prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the severity of the circumstances.
Domestic violence laws are used to bring criminal charges against defendants, and they also provide legal protections for victims, according to HG.org. The most common remedy after a domestic violence incident is the issuance of a restraining order. These are court orders that prohibit an abuser from coming within a specific distance of the victim, and may include provisions that require an abuser to move out, surrender any firearms and pay child or spousal support. A judge may also order an end to indirect contact, such as phone calls, email, text messages and communication through a third party. Courts can issue both emergency and long-term restraining orders.