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Laws vary by state, but domestic violence is generally defined the crime of assault where the victim is a current or former spouse, parent, child, any person with whom the defendant has a child in common, a present or former household member, or a person who has or had a dating or engagement relationship with the defendant. A person may often be arrested for domestic violence without a warrant.
If a person abused by domestic violence decides not to have the abuser arrested, they may ask for a civil protective order that may order the abuser to stay away from and stop assaulting the person. Injunctions may also be issued to prevent the abuser from trespassing on certain property. The order is only effective if it has been served on the abuser.
Example of State statutes ( Colorado) defining Domestic abuse:
C.R.S. 13-14-101 [Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 13 courts and Court Procedure, Article 14 Civil Protection orders] defines Domestic Abuse as follows:
(2) "Domestic abuse" means any act or threatened act of violence that is committed by any person against another person to whom the actor is currently or was formerly related, or with whom the actor is living or has lived in the same domicile, or with whom the actor is involved or has been involved in an intimate relationship. "Domestic abuse" may also include any act or threatened act of violence against the minor children of either of the parties.
C.R.S. 10-3-1104.8 [ Colorado Revised Statutes; Title 10 Insurance; Article 3 Regulation of Insurance Companies]
“ As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) "Domestic abuse" means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family members, current or former household members, or persons who are or have been involved in an intimate relationship:
(I) Committing an act of unlawful sexual behavior, as described in part 4 of article 3 of title 18, C.R.S., or otherwise intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing or attempting to cause another person, including a minor, bodily injury or physical or psychological harm; or
(II) Knowingly engaging in repeated acts under circumstances that place the person toward which such acts are directed in reasonable fear of bodily injury or physical or psychological harm; or
(III) Subjecting another person to false imprisonment; or
(IV) Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing or attempting to cause damage to property so as to intimidate or attempt to control the behavior of another person.