Ways out of violence

Laws and legal options

Domestic violence has consequences for the perpetrator. All forms of physical and sexual assault within the family, marriage, partnership or relationship are punishable by law. This also applies to psychological and social violence such as threats, insults or controlling contacts or stalking. Persons affected by violence have a number of civil rights under the Protection Against Violence Act, which came into force in 2002 and is designed to protect them and keep them safe. Below you will find more detailed information on the legal situation and your legal options. In principle, it is always helpful to seek advice from specialized lawyers.

Pressing criminal charges

Domestic violence is not a separate criminal offense. Many types of behaviour in the context of domestic violence fall under different criminal offenses, such as insults, threats, bodily harm, sexual coercion and sexual Abuse, property damage, false imprisonment or stalking. In these cases, as with all other criminal offenses, criminal charges can be filed, so that preliminary proceedings are initiated against the perpetrator of the crime. Crimes related to domestic violence are only actively prosecuted by the police upon an additional Criminal complaint (unless it is a Criminal offence liable to public prosecution). A Criminal complaint can be filed a maximum of three months after the crime or the perpetrator becomes known.

The Protection Against Violence Act

The Violence Protection Act strengthens the rights and protection options of persons affected by domestic violence and enables rapid assistance. In order to protect against further attacks and harassment after a police intervention, affected persons can apply for various protective measures at the district court within certain deadlines. The application is possible if there is a risk of repetition of violent acts on the part of the perpetrator. The protection orders are possible independently of criminal proceedings and are limited in time. For example, the police can temporarily order the perpetrator to leave the home and order a Prohibition to return. Within 10 days of the police intervention, the person affected by violence can apply to the district court for further protective measures in the case of a Temporary restraining order (TRO), e.g., a (temporary) Residential relinquishment or a Prohibition of approach respectively a Prohibition of contact. These measures can reduce the risk of further violence.

They often also effect on custody and access rights in the case of joint children. Persons affected by violence thus have the opportunity to take care of their short- and long-term security in peace and to find support so that they can escape the cycle of violence.

Psychosocial process consultation

After a crime, victims have the opportunity to make use of psychosocial process consultation. It is the task of the psychosocial consultant to inform you about the legal procedure and the tasks of the persons involved in the criminal proceedings. They accompany you to questioning and the main trial and look after you during waiting times. If you are anxious or stressed by the criminal proceedings, they will be at your side. Psychosocial process consultation does not offer psychosocial counselling or legal advice. It also does not include an exchange about the circumstances of a crime. In certain cases, you are entitled to have psychosocial consultation free of charge during the trial. You or your lawyer must file an application to the court for this. The court selects the person to be assigned; you also have the right to make a suggestion.

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