The state of Georgia defines domestic violence as an act of "family violence." The law protects against physical, sexual, and emotional abuse among family members. You don't have to be married to someone in order to be a victim of domestic violence in Georgia.
Studies demonstrate law enforcement can decrease the incidents and severity of family violence by making an arrest when probable cause exists. Therefore, the Deputy Sheriff that responds will arrest when the Deputy can legally do so. The decision to arrest does not lie with the victim of domestic violence, but is the decision of the Deputy based on stated law and our policy.
After an arrest is made, the Deputy will assist you in making arrangements for your safety. The Deputy will stand by while you gather personal items, such as clothing for yourself and your children. The Deputy will also transport you to a house of a friend or family member. The Deputy will also provide the above services if no arrest is made because the suspect has left the scene or if there is lack of probable cause to arrest.
Who is Protected?
Georgia’s Family Violence Act is a law designed to protect individuals who are abused by present or past spouses, parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household. It can also be used to get temporary custody, financial support, and other assistance for the abused person. Additionally, victims that do not qualify under Georgia’s Family Violence Act may seek protection pursuant to Georgia’s stalking laws.
Most of the laws relevant to domestic violence are based on state law. This includes restraining or protection orders, divorce, custody, crimes, and more.
Domestic violence charges are treated very seriously in Georgia. The court can issue a Family Law Protective Order. This order prohibits the offender from having contact with the victim for a specified period of time. If a person is found to violate a restraining or protective order, he or she could be jailed and charged with a separate crime, including aggravated stalking.
A Family Violence Protection Order can:
- Order an abuser to leave the victim alone;
- Give the victim possession of the house and force the abuser to leave (you can ask the court to have the sheriff send someone home with you to enforce this part of the order);
- Order assistance to help a victim get his or her personal property;
- Make the abuser provide alternate housing for a spouse, former spouse, or parent and children;
- Give the victim temporary custody of shared children and set temporary visitation rights;
- Award temporary child support and/or spousal support from the abuser;
- Order the abuser to go to counseling;
- Award costs and attorney's fees to either party;
- Lead the abuser's arrest if he or she breaks the order.
If you would like to obtain a Protective Order contact the Crisis Line at 478-745-9292 or the Salvation Army Safe House at 478-738-9800 and they will supply you with the proper forms.