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Domestic Violence Courts

Specialized courts have been set up in some states to deal exclusively with domestic violence matters. Domestic violence courts are problem-solving courts that seek not only to punish criminal behavior but also to resolve the underlying issues that brought the parties into the criminal justice system. The main goals of domestic violence courts are victim safety, coordination with agencies and organizations to provide education and treatment services, punishment and treatment, and ensuring an offender’s compliance with court orders.

Victim Safety

Victim safety is a key focus of domestic violence courts. Victims are assigned a victim advocate. The victim advocate recommends appropriate social services, monitors the status of the victim’s case, and offers advice on safety planning.

Coordination with Law Enforcement and Social Service Organizations

Domestic violence courts use a team approach in which the judge, the attorneys, the victim advocates, and social service agencies work together to meet the needs of domestic violence victims and their children. Law enforcement, child welfare agencies, and social services groups collaborate with the courts to provide assistance to family members.

Punishment and Treatment

Some states are considering integrated domestic violence courts in which a single judge has authority to handle all family, criminal, and marital matters. Other states permanently assign a single judge to handle a case. The advantage of this approach is that offenders are more accountable for their actions since one judge handles the entire case. Domestic violence courts impose traditional punishment such as incarceration and probation. They can also mandate an offender’s participation in anger management programs, substance abuse treatment programs, and other forms of treatment programs.

Compliance with Court Orders

Protection orders are strictly enforced, and an offender’s compliance with court orders is closely monitored. Domestic violence courts can be expected to deal quickly with offenders who violate protection orders and other court orders.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.