Domestic violence is unfortunately pervasive in our society affecting all races, ages, and genders. Military members statistically are responsible for over 20% of domestic violence cases nationwide. Therefore, it is important to note the intermingling of military law and state law regarding domestic violence and injunctions of the same. Discuss with your family lawyer your specific case and the involvement of a military member. We will be able to discuss with you in detail the options provided to victims and military members.
Generally, the first step a victim of domestic violence faces is the choice of reporting the abuse. If involved in the military, you have different methods of reporting these types of cases in addition to the civilian options. If reporting to the military, you may file a restricted report or unrestricted report. A restricted report results in the highest form of confidentiality as military law enforcement and military command are not notified. You will be able to seek aid through medical professionals, and counseling services; however, no military legal action will be taken. With an unrestricted report, any party may notify military command and military law enforcement; an investigation will commence; a Military Protective Order may be issued; you will be referred to medical professionals, counseling services, and legal services.
When a domestic violence report has been submitted to military command, a Military Protective Order may be issued. This order is entered by the military member’s commander and its purpose is to “safeguard a victim, quell a disturbance, and maintain good order and discipline.” These orders are at the hands of the commander and they may choose to terminate or extend them. If the military member violates these orders, they will face punishment through military courts. The main difference between the Military Protective Order is their vague nature and inability to be enforced by civilian law enforcement. These actions are solely within the realm of military command and justice system. However, their main purpose is to provide protection for the victim and to allow them time to seek more permanent measures in the civilian court systems.
Therefore, even if you are involved in the military in some capacity you are still governed by state law. This allows you as a victim of domestic violence, even if in the military, to contact your local authorities and your attorney to initiate action in state court. Your family law attorney will seek an order of protection for you and your children, if any are involved. This order may be temporary at first, but can become permanent after certain hearings and actions taken. However, this order will prohibit the abuser from contacting you, coming to your place of work or home, and may order temporary financial support and child custody to be provided. If the abuser is found to have violated this order, they may face time in jail. These protections are much more restrictive than the military and are enforceable by local law enforcement as well as the military.
If you are involved in the military or are in a relationship with a military member, it is important to know the available options to you in the form of state law and military action. This is particularly true regarding domestic violence. Therefore, consulting with an experienced attorney can provide you with a great deal of necessary information to protect your physical safety and legal rights.
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