Victims of domestic violence seeking remedies through the criminal justice system may use one or both of two available legal options:
A victim may report the abuse or incident to the police. Under Delaware Law many acts of domestic violence constitute a crime. Such acts include threats to harm, harassment, and physical or sexual assault.
Protection From Abuse Orders (PFAs) are civil orders issued by the Family Court of Delaware. The PFA allows a victim to obtain a court order against an abusive partner. It does not require police intervention but rather is an action between parties involved in a family relationship as defined in the Delaware Code.
- The parties to a PFA are the petitioner (one who files the PFA) and the respondent (who is named as the abuser in the PFA).
- The PFA is a temporary order that is generally in effect for one year and can be extended for an additional six months following another hearing. Depending upon the case, the no contact and no abuse provisions can last up to two years or permanently.
- The parties may be married, dating, living together or not, with children in common or not, same sex or heterosexual.
- PFAs can also be granted on behalf of minor child and disabled adults.
- A PFA issued in Delaware is enforceable throughout the Country.
A judge may order any or all of the following to be included within the Protection From Abuse order
- Prohibit contact of the respondent with the applicant
- Temporarily assign use of property including house, vehicles, and checkbooks
- Grant custody of children
- Relinquish any firearms
- Counseling or treatment
A respondent who violates the PFA can be arrested without a warrant. Although the PFA order is not a guarantee of safety, it is an important remedy for victims of domestic violence as they plan for their safety and that of their children.
View the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council's PFA Information Sheet
View DCADV’s Fact Sheet about PFAs and the Delaware code: What You Must Prove, What You Can Obtain
Information from www.womenslaw.org: