DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER, CALL 911 FOR POLICE ASSISTANCE!
Since 1995, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office has operated a Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) as a part of the Field Services Division.This unit helps provide for the safety of individuals who are victims of violent acts by spouses/and or family members.
ABOUT THE GEORGIA FAMILY VIOLENCE ACT
Georgia defines “family violence” as any commission of a battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, criminal trespass, or any felony committed between the following persons: current or former spouses; persons who are parents of the same child; parents and children; stepparents and stepchildren; foster parents and foster children, or persons currently or formerly living in the same household. Georgia’s definition of family violence expressly excludes a parent’s “reasonable discipline” of a child that takes the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention. (O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1)
TEMPORARY PROTECTIVE ORDER (TPO)
Article 1 of the Georgia Family Violence Act grants relief to family/domestic violence victims by the DeKalb County Superior Court in the form of a Temporary Protective Order (TPO). This is a court order alleging that one or more acts of family violence were committed by the accused and ordering one person to stay away from another, under penalty of arrest. There is no charge to apply for a TPO.
The victim is considered the “petitioner” and the accused is considered the “respondent.”
The petitioner alleges – with specific facts – that probable cause exists to establish that family violence has occurred in the past and may occur in the future. The Court may order temporary relief through a TPO ex parte (which means that the respondent is absent or unrepresented) as it deems necessary to protect the petitioner and or minors of the household from violence. A hearing date is then set for within 30 days of the petition filing, during which the petitioner must prove the allegation by submitting evidence, as in other civil cases,
HOW A TPO CAN HELP
A Temporary Protective Order may:
- Direct a party to stay away and/or to refrain from such acts of violence as they are accused
- Grant a spouse possession of the residence or household and exclude the other spouse
- Direct the other spouse to vacate the location
- Award temporary custody of minor children
- Provide for possession of personal property of the parties and various other items the judge may deem necessary to protect and provide for the victim
HOW AND WHERE TO FILE
The order must be filed in the county of residence of the accused, and there must be a recent act of physical abuse or threat of violence. The exception to this is that the accused’s residence is outside Georgia. In that instance, the petition may be filed in the county in which the violent act or threat occurred.
To file a petition for a TPO, the victim must complete forms located in the DeKalb County Superior Court Clerk’s Office that provide details about recent and past violent acts or threats. An attorney is not needed to file the petition but the victim has the option to use an attorney to file.
HELP IS AVAILABLE
The Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence assists individuals with filing petitions. Representatives are located within the DeKalb County Superior Court Clerk’s Office, which is in Room G-210 on the ground floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse in downtown Decatur, Georgia at 556 North McDonough Street. Assistance is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Assistance is also available from the Family Law Information Center in the courthouse on the First Floor, Room 160. For information, call (404) 687-3990.
Contact the DeKalb County Superior Court Clerk’s Office at (404) 371-2836 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit www.dekalbsuperiorcourt.comto access links to other related services.
WHO CAN GET A TPO
You are eligible for a Temporary Protective Order if you are abused by a current or former spouse, the other parent of your child, someone who lives with you, someone who once lived with you, your parent, step parent or foster parent, your child, step child or foster child. The abuse must consist of one or more of these acts: battery, simple battery, assault, stalking, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, or any felony. Most jurisdictions also require that you state that you fear for your safety.
WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR TPO
The Superior Court Clerk’s Office – where the forms are completed – will direct the petitioner to the DeKalb Sheriff’s Office Court Division/Civil Process Unit to obtain notarized/certified copies of the TPO. This office is located on the ground floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse in downtown Decatur, Georgia.
After the TPO and copies are obtained, the petitioner should keep a certified copy of the TPO with him/her at all times. A separate copy should be provided to the school or daycare of children at risk. The respondent’s name should be removed from approved “pick up” forms at the at-risk child’s school or daycare center.
The respondent will know that a TPO has been filed against him/her because the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office will personally visit the respondent and advise him/her of the filing. If, during this process, the petitioner believes there is a threat of immediate danger, call Emergency 911 for assistance.
Once a court date is set and the hearing is in session, the petitioner/victim should tell the sheriff’s deputy inside the courtroom if he/she feels unsafe with the accused/respondent being present at the hearing. Deputies can make arrangements to increase the victim’s physical comfort level, including preventing victims and respondents from sitting near each other. The deputies can detain the respondent in the courtroom for some time while the victim leaves.
While the TPO is in effect, the petitioner should keep a journal of any attempts by the respondent to make contact. These include phone calls, letters, social media, cards, photos, flowers, balloons or gift deliveries. Document any attempts by the respondent to break into the restricted residence or any instances of the petitioner being followed. Document and keep all evidence of violations and report them immediately to the police. Respondents who violate TPOs are subject to either civil or criminal consequences, depending on the nature of the violation.
DEKALB COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE UNIT
The Domestic Violence Unit works in conjunction with the Fugitive Unit to provide services to victims of family/domestic violence.
- Serve Temporary Protective Orders (TPOs) received by the Sheriff’s Civil Process Unit for individuals identified by victims as being the source or potential source of violence
- Arrest persons wanted on domestic violence related criminal warrants
- Assist victims through referrals and explanations of the criminal process
- Transport victims and children to safe emergency shelters
- Collect evidence to provide records on domestic violence cases
FOR NON-EMERGENCIES, YOU CAN REACH US 24 HOURS A DAY
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ASSISTANCE LINE – 404-298-8300
DAYS (Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.) – 404-298-8300
EVENINGS (Monday through Friday after 4:30 p.m.) – 404-298-8200
WEEKENDS (Saturday and Sunday day or evening)&HOLIDAYS – 404-298-8200
OTHER COMMUNITY RESOURCES
VICTIM INFORMATION AND NOTIFICATION EVERYDAY (VINE) 1-800-398-2916