A domestic violence attorney is a person who represents either victims or accused perpetrators of domestic violence. Domestic violence refers to violence or aggression by an individual against his or her spouse, family member or significant others.
Domestic violence most commonly applies between a husband and wife. While domestic violence is usually thought of as males battering or abusing women, it is possible for a woman to abuse a man as well. Generally, only physical abuse is classified as domestic violence and is the type of case a domestic violence attorney would take on. Verbal abuse may not be considered domestic violence, unless it rises to the level of open threats of violence.
Although spousal relationships are most common, domestic violence can also exist between boyfriends and girlfriends or even between roommates or other situations in which two people have a close relationship. Child abuse in some jurisdictions is considered a form of domestic violence, while in others it has a different legal classification. A domestic violence attorney can become involved in any of these types of cases, in which one person abuses someone else he or she has an intimate connection with.
The duties of a domestic violence attorney depend on who he is representing. If a domestic violence attorney represents a victim of abuse, his primary duty is to help the victim protect herself. This usually involves going to family court.
While representing a victim, a domestic violence attorney's first course of action is normally to get a restraining order to help make the violence stop. This may come in the form of an emergency protection order or temporary restraining order first, which is a stop-gap measure until a more permanent restraining order can be obtained. After a temporary restraining order is granted, the domestic violence lawyer continues to protect the abuse victim by filing an action for a permanent restraining order, and doing anything else necessary to help the victim, such as working with criminal prosecutors who may be prosecuting the abuser for his violent behavior.
A domestic violence attorney may also represent someone accused of domestic violence. In such situations, the attorney's job would be to try to prove that the alleged violence did not occur by using witness testimony or other evidence. This would normally occur in a family court setting; usually a criminal attorney would represent a person accused of domestic violence in a criminal trial.