When a family member makes the claim that another member of the family has committed a terrible act against them, they file a family offense petition. Some of the things to constitute a family offense petition are harassment, menacing, disorderly conduct, aggravated harassment, stalking, criminal mischief, assault, attempted assault, or reckless endangerment. These are terrible things that happen more often than one might think. However, what is a family member to do when another has committed a terrible act against them, their kids, or their family? There is one option that most people choose to pursue in court. That is a family offense petition.
When filing a family offense petition, the family members are essentially defined as certain individuals that are related through the means of blood relation or marriage. The marriage includes members of the family that are formerly married or may be unrelated and have a child together. This means that if there are kids involved but the parents are unmarried, they can still file a family offense petition because of certain circumstances. This is when the petitioner should file the petition in court. When the initial petition is filed in the court, the petitioner has their right to make an immediate appearance in court.
Depending on the judge and their thoughts, they could include good cause to issue a child support temporary order or a temporary protection order. The temporary orders will last until the alleged abuser or respondent are set to appear in court. This date will be set by the judge who will then issue a summons directly to the respondent. There are times when the petitioner might be in imminent danger, which would cause the judge to issue a warrant for the respondent, who will then be brought to court right away.
Essentially, the respondent has the right to either deny or admit the allegations against them. They can also consent to the order of protection entry. There might be times when the Family Court is not in session, but the petitioner still has the right to obtain that same order of protection from the Criminal Court if the circumstances warrant the order.
Since it is more common for the respondent to deny their allegations, a new hearing will be held, called a fact-finding hearing. This will help determine whether these allegations are true or not. Should the judge find the allegations to be true, there will be a dispositional hearing. The court has the right to adjourn to make inquiries about the conditions, surroundings, and capacities of those individuals who are involved in the petition.
If the allegations are not proven to the judge, the court case will be dismissed. However, should the allegations be true, the dispositional hearing can include things like suspension for six months, a restitution pay, probation, and an order of protection for the other petitioner.
The petitioner does have the right to chase a family offense case in both the Criminal Court or the Family Court. Family Court can provide an order of protection, temporary custody, and other remedies. Criminal Court can impose more serious sentences like jail time. The family offense is still considered a criminal act, which might have cause for moving ahead with the case without any consent from the petitioner. Both courts prove that the respondent and the petitioner has the right to an attorney.
The final order of protection for petitioners might require the respondent to do a few things:
Should the respondent violate any of the above things, the respondent essentially violates this court appointed order of protection. In this case, the petitioner can then file a violation petition on top of the family offense petition. This violation petition can be filed in the case of the proven violation, and the order of protection can be modified. The petition can be moved to criminal court depending on the type of violation and how severe it is. The court can also suspend or revoke the license for carrying a firearm, owned by the respondent.