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Understanding Kentucky’s domestic violence laws

In Kentucky, domestic violence can be physical injury, assault or sexual abuse, or it could refer to causing fear of impending physical injury, if these acts occur between family members. As FindLaw explains, a family member means a spouse or former spouse, a relative, a person who is or has been in an “unmarried couple” relationship with the alleged abuser, a person who has a child with the alleged abuser, or any person who lives in the same household as the alleged abuser.

Kentucky victims of domestic violence can go to court to get an emergency protective order. If they can show that they are in fear because of danger that is immediate and present, the judge issues an emergency protective order. In addition to requiring the alleged abuser to vacate the residence that he shares with the victim, this order compels him not to do any of the following things:

  • Communicate with the petitioner
  • Commit further acts of violence against the petitioner
  • Damage or dispose of the petitioner’s property
  • Approach the petitioner and/or her minor child within a specified distance
  • Go within a specified distance of the petitioner’s home, school, workplace or that of any child or family member protected in the order

Term of the protective order

In Kentucky, an emergency protective order stays in effect until the judge holds a full hearing on the petitioner’s complaint. This full hearing must occur within 14 days of the issuance of the emergency protective order. Both the petitioner and the alleged abuser receive notice of the date of the full hearing and both can and should be there.

After hearing all the evidence, the court decides whether or not to issue a full-fledged protective order, also called a restraining order, against the abuser. While this order is just a piece of paper and cannot prevent the abuser from committing further domestic abuse, if the abuser violates this order in any way, the victim has the right to call the police and have the abuser arrested.

Criminal charges

The Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that in addition to getting a civil protective order, the victim also may be able to have the abuser charged with a crime. Criminal charges can include rape, sodomy, sexual abuse, assault, menacing, terroristic threatening or wanton endangerment.

 

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