On July 1, 2021 a new law went into effect, which gives enhanced protection to victims of domestic violence. A domestic violence victim whose abuser is convicted of certain crimes may ask a court to enter a lifetime order of protection against the abuser. This order would remain in effect until the death of either the victim or the abuser. Prior law required the victim to re-petition the court every year to renew an order of protection.
Under the new law, the victim must prove two things:
- That the abuser was convicted in a criminal court of any one of a number of felony offenses, including:
a. Aggravated Assault (an assault that results in death or serious bodily injury, involves a deadly weapon, or involves strangulation);
c. Sexual assault or rape;
2. That the victim was the victim of that felony offense.
Victims of domestic violence should always report abuse to law enforcement, and immediately seek an order of protection from the general sessions court in the county where the abuser lives, or where the abuse occurred. Likely, the initial order of protection would be granted for only one year, because the criminal process usually takes several months. Once the abuser has been convicted in criminal court, the victim could then petition the general sessions court for a lifetime order of protection.