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Domestic Violence | Stalking | Georgia Protective Orders

Being a victim of domestic violence is among the most painful experiences one can endure. If you are experiencing domestic violence or stalking in Georgia, it’s important to understand that help is available.

What’s most important in these circumstances is ensuring your immediate safety. Once you’ve done so, strongly consider reviewing your case with a lawyer to discuss your legal options. Atlanta domestic violence, stalking, and Georgia protective orders attorney Traci Weiss of Weiss Family Law can help you better understand how you may proceed.

Georgia law defines domestic violence as any act of family violence. It involves any felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by one family or household member against another. Family or household members can include spouses, former spouses, parents, children, stepparents, stepchildren, foster parents, foster children, and any person living or formerly living in the same household.

Specific examples of behaviors that may qualify as domestic violence in Georgia include:

• Physical Abuse: Physical abuse can include any act of violence or force that causes bodily harm or injury. This can include hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, choking, or using a weapon.

• Emotional Abuse: Emotional abuse can include any behavior that causes emotional harm or distress to another person. This can include verbal abuse, such as name-calling, yelling, or insulting, as well as psychological abuse, such as manipulation, gaslighting, or isolation.

• Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse can include any unwanted sexual behavior or contact. This can include rape, sexual assault, sexual coercion, or unwanted touching.

• Economic Abuse: Economic abuse can include any behavior that limits or controls a person’s financial resources. This can include withholding money, preventing a person from working, or controlling their access to financial resources.

• Stalking: Stalking can include any behavior that causes fear or harassment to another person. This can include following, watching, or harassing a person. Stalking can also include certain unwelcome online behaviors.

• Child Abuse: Child abuse may consist any behavior that causes harm or injury to a child. This can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect, or abuse of a family member in the child’s presence.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, seek help immediately. Steps you can take include:

  • Removing yourself and your loved ones from an unsafe environment and relocating somewhere safe where your abuser won’t find you;
  • Contacting the Georgia Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-334-2836 for support and resources; and
  • Calling 911 if you are in immediate danger.

You may also seek a protective order against your abuser. This is a task an Atlanta domestic violence, stalking, and Georgia protective orders attorney can assist you with.

A protective order (or restraining order) is an order a court may issue prohibiting an abuser from contacting or being near a victim. The purpose of a protective order is to protect the victim from further harm by the abuser.

The following are examples of provision a protective order may include in Georgia:

  • Prohibiting the abuser from contacting or being in close proximity to the victim
  • Prohibiting the abuser from coming near the victim’s home, workplace, or school
  • Granting the victim temporary custody of any children
  • Requiring the abuser to attend counseling or anger management classes

In Georgia, a victim of domestic violence or stalking can obtain a protective order by filing a petition with the court. The petition must describe the abuse or stalking that the victim has experienced and must provide information about the abuser, including their name, address and physical description.

After the petition is filed, an informal, ex parte (one-sided) hearing will typically happen very quickly where the petitioner will meet with a judge and explain why they are seeking a protective order. If that judge determines that if what the petitioner describes would warrant a protective order, then a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order will be issued right away, and a sheriff’s deputy will serve a copy of that on the Defendant, usually within a day or so.  Then, a formal hearing will be scheduled with another judge, usually within a few days after that. During the formal hearing, the victim will have the opportunity to present evidence of the abuse or stalking, and the alleged abuser will have the opportunity to present a defense. If the judge determines that the victim has been the victim of domestic violence or stalking, they may issue a long term protective order (typically for 12 months).

Once a court has issued a protective order, it’s important for the victim to keep a copy of the order with them at all times. The victim should also provide a copy of the order to local law enforcement, as well as to their employer, school, and other relevant parties.

Seeking a protective order is often a complex and emotional process. An attorney can help someone seeking a protective order in Georgia in a variety of ways, including:

  • Providing Legal Advice: An attorney can provide legal advice to the victim about their legal rights and options. They can explain the process of seeking a protective order and answer any questions the victim may have.  In the alternative, they can offer legal advice to defend against a protective order if you are wrongfully accused of domestic violence or stalking.
  • Preparing and Filing the Petition: An attorney can help the victim prepare and file the petition for a protective order. This includes gathering evidence of the abuse or stalking, such as police reports, medical records, or witness statements.
  • Representing the Victim at the Hearing: An attorney can represent the victim at the protective order hearing. They can present evidence of the abuse or stalking, cross-examine witnesses, and argue for the issuance of a protective order.

Additionally, someone seeking a protective order against an abuser or stalker may also be planning to divorce their abuser and/or secure custody of any children they may share. A lawyer’s help can play a critical role in these circumstances.

At Weiss Family Law, Atlanta domestic violence, stalking, and Georgia protective orders lawyer Traci Weiss has the experience necessary to assist you in navigating this complex situation. She offers a compassionate but aggressive approach to ensure you’re protected. For more information about what Weiss Family Law can do for you, contact us online or call us at 770-727-0533.

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