New Protections for VA Victims of Stalking, Family Abuse
RICHMOND, Va. - Of the 14 new public safety laws that have taken effect in Virginia this month, one will provide extended protections to victims of domestic violence and stalking. Susheela Varky, an attorney with the Virginia Poverty Law Center, says the new law will make gaining protection much easier for victims who feel they are still in danger - even when their original protective order is about to expire.
"To protect the health and safety of a victim of family abuse and her family or household members, she can potentially get an extension without having to show a new incident of family abuse."
Varky, who chairs the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Action Alliance, says historically, victims of family abuse had to file for a new court order, and the protections were limited to family or household relationships, such as spouses or live-in partners.
"But what if you don't have that household-member relationship? It covers stalking, serious bodily injury and sexual battery; that's the other type of protective order."
A protective order has to be granted initially by a judge after a hearing. It can prohibit the perpetrator from further violence and further contact with the victim and family members, as well as provide any other relief necessary to keep them safe.
Protective orders typically last up to two years. The new law, a result of SB 468 and HB 930, provides for limitless extensions of these orders. It is supported by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, Gov. McDonnell and the Action Alliance.