The legal process for filing a domestic violence claim

Domestic violence occurs when a person abuses their power over another. It is also exerting control and showing a pattern of abuse toward the victim. 

This happens typically in intimate relationships between couples or family relationships. Domestic violence can be physical, mental, emotional, and sexual. It includes any kind of behavior that frightens, intimidates, hurts, or manipulates someone.

There are various types of domestic violence. Most of which attract criminal liability on the abuser. A domestic violence defense lawyer can advise you on the category your case falls under. Doing this is also a key determinant of the legal process involved in getting justice.

Types of domestic violence

Oftentimes, people limit domestic violence to involve only physical assault. However, there are various types of domestic violence, each leading to grave consequences. Some of these include the following:

  1. Control and Manipulation

This involves influencing and controlling a victim to the abuser’s advantage. This enables the abuser to dominate the victim. For example, making the victim believe they are not self-sufficient without the abuser.

  1. Physical Assault

This includes inflicting harm on the victim. It can be by beating, pushing, shooting, biting,  or drowning the victim. It can also be any form of physical behavior that hurts or causes physical pain to the victim.

  1. Sexual Assault and abuse

This occurs when the victim is taken advantage of and forced to take part in sexual activities. It includes:

  • Raping the victim
  • Exploiting a victim who cannot make an informed decision sexually. This can be due to young age, sleep, and being unconscious.
  • Making offensive sexual comments to the victim.
  • Touching the victim’s body in a nonconsensual way.
  • Withholding sex as a control mechanism for the victim.
  1. Emotional and verbal Abuse

This involves using derogatory words to threaten, hurt, and embarrass the victim. For example, name-calling and screaming at the victim.

  1. Economic Abuse

This involves manipulating the victim’s economic and final resources to the abuser’s advantage. This can take the form of controlling the victim’s income and not allowing the victim access to their money.

The process of filing a domestic violence claim

The first step is to speak to a domestic violence defense lawyer about the abuse so that they will help you through the process.

After this, you can make a domestic violence report to the police. The police will ask you as the domestic violence victim basic information about the case. Information such as the name of the abuser, place, date of crime and details of the case. You will also need to write accurate details of the story as your statement. This statement is what is used when the abuser is charged in court. You will submit evidence such as pictures and medical reports with the statement.

If the police find your complaint valid, the abuser who is now the suspect will be arrested. After arrest, domestic violence charges may be filed against the suspect.

Transfer of the case to a prosecutor

After the arrest, the case will be transferred to a prosecutor. It is the prosecutor that decides whether the case goes to court. This is where your domestic violence defense lawyer is needed. Your lawyer must make sure your case is strong enough for the prosecutor to charge the suspect with a crime. Once the suspect is formally charged with a domestic violence crime, they are now referred to as the accused.

The accused will take a plea of guilty or not guilty to the domestic violence charge when arraigned in court. After the plea, the trial begins and this is where the lawyers present their case and their evidence.

Possible Penalties for a domestic violence crime

After evaluation of the case, the accused may be convicted for any of the following:

  • Domestic Violence first degree
  • Domestic Violence second degree
  • Domestic Violence third degree

Each of these categories of conviction carries various punishments and  includes: 

Domestic Violence first degree

If it results in bodily harm with no deadly weapon used it is a category C felony. The penalty is 1- 5 years of jail time in state prison and a fine of $10,000. If a deadly weapon is used it is a category B felony. The jail time is 2-15 years in state prison and a fine of $10,000. The convicted person may also be subjected to mandatory domestic violence counseling programs. Which may not be less than 6 months with each class lasting an hour and a half. 

A person convicted of a first-degree domestic violence charge has to live with a criminal record. This may affect such individuals in securing employment, housing, and loans.

Domestic Violence second degree

A second-degree domestic violence penalty may result in 10 days up to six months of jail time. More penalties like paying a mandatory fine of  $1,000 and 200 hours of community service may be given. Additionally, the convicted person may be subjected to mandatory domestic violence counseling for 6 to 12 months. The duration of the program will be decided by the judge.

The convicted person is also not allowed to seal their criminal record after the case.

Domestic Violence third degree

A third-degree domestic violence offense is considered a misdemeanor. The penalty is at least a year to 5 years in state prison. Such people are not eligible for probation.

Other forms of punishment not listed above may include:

  1. Issuance of a protective order.

A protection order is issued to restrain the convicted person from further harassing the victim. Violation of this order may lead to further criminal penalties.  The protective order in Vegas is of two types:

  • temporary protective orders which are for 45 days
  • extended protective orders which are for 1 year.

Where the victim has children involved, the case may also be reviewed in the family court. The family court may give more punishment to the convicted person. The family court issues a protective order without allowing defense from the convicted person. This is because the court is protective of the children. The convicted person may later schedule a hearing afterward for his defense.

  1. Domestic Violence involving a Pregnant victim

Where the victim was pregnant during the violence it may result in jail time of up to 364 days and a fine of  $2,000 for a first offense. Any subsequent conviction falls under category B felony. It may result in 1 to 6 years of jail time and a fine of up to $5,000.


A domestic violence case is sensitive and has a negative effect if you do not file a claim. Various laws provide remedies to domestic violence victims. It is best to involve an experienced domestic violence lawyer to get the desired outcome in your case.

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