OF FAMILY VIOLENCE ACT
Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions
IS THE "PREVENTION OF FAMILY VIOLENCE ACT"?
a law that provides help for persons (called "petitioners")
who believe they have suffered physical' abuse or other
violence by another family or household member (called the
DOES A PETITIONER GET PROTECTION UNDER THIS LAW?
believe you need protection (called a "Family Protective
Order") from future abuse you should contact the Legal
Aid Society at 175 Walnut Street, Morgantown (296-0001)
where you can be referred for a free lawyer.*
you may go directly to the Magistrate Court where the matter
can be processed without lawyer assistance. OR, you may
start the action at Magistrate Court AND then go (but do
so as soon as possible) to Legal Aid for help.
DOES A PETITIONER DO IF A FAMILY PROTECTIVE ORDER IS VIOLATED?
to the Magistrate Court (if you have a lawyer, call him/her
first) for the next step (called a "contempt proceeding").
At this second hearing, if the Magistrate finds that the
respondent abused you again or refused to stay away from
you, the Magistrate will fine (at least $250 up to $1000)
the respondent and send him/her to jail (at least 24 hours
up to 1 year). For other violations the Magistrate can make
the respondent post a bond to guarantee that he/she will
obey the order in the future.
HOW DOES A RESPONDENT GET LEGAL
ASSISTANCE IN THIS MATTER?
is no provision for court-appointed lawyers in Family Protective
Order cases for the first hearing. A respondent must either
hire a lawyer or represent himself/herself .
if a respondent is ordered by the Court to do or not do
certain acts, and the respondent violates the Courfs order,
the respondent may be fined and put in jail. At this second
hearing. held to determine whether the respondent should
be fined and jailed for violating the Courts order, the
respondent will be entitled to a court-appointed lawyer
if he/she cannot afford to hire one. A respondent can make
an application for a court-appointed lawyer at the Probation
Office in the Monongalia County Courthouse.
SHOULD A PERSON HAVE A LAWYER IN
FAMILY PROTECTIVE ORDER HEARINGS?
a person is better off at a court hearing with a lawyer.
If you can afford to hire a lawyer, you should do so. If
you cannot afford a lawyer, and you are the person claiming
to be abused, you should go to the Legal Aid Society. If
you are the respondent in a criminal contempt proceeding,
you should inquire at the Probation Office to see if you
are eligible for a court-appointed lawyer.
*Legal Aid, the WVU College of Law, RDVIC and volunteers
from the Monongalia County Bar coordinate a project to provide
free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence. If
available, a lawyer and law student will help you without