Court proceedings in a Virginia domestic violence case

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Virginia residents who have been victims of domestic abuse have the legal right to initiate a proceeding to obtain a protective order, also known as a restraining order, against the abuser. In addition, if the abuser has been charged with a crime in connection with the abuse, prosecutors may choose to initiate criminal proceedings. In either case the victim will usually have to testify in court.

Going to court and facing one's abuser can be an emotional challenge. Additionally, in a domestic abuse case, the victim must also be careful and take precautionary measures in order to protect themselves as well as any minor children they may have.

When testifying in court a victim of domestic violence should try to be patient and calm. Answering all of the questions clearly and honestly helps the judge and jury understand the victim's allegations. Virginia also allows the victim to ask court officials, such as the judge, the bailiff and the prosecutor, to physically separate them from the abuser or anyone who is siding with the abuser. The judge and jury will examine all of the evidence that is presented, including the victim's testimony, eyewitness testimony of friends and neighbors and medical evidence.

In many cases, the victim of domestic abuse might be eligible for crime victim compensation from the abuser. The compensation can include any unreimbursed medical expenses incurred in order to treat injuries inflicted at the hands of the abuser, as well as unreimbursed costs of any mental health examinations and counseling incurred by the victim.

Source: DCJS.VIRGINIA.gov, "An information guide for domestic violence victims in Virginia," April 2013

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