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November 20, 2023 by FH&P Lawyers
Domestic violence also known as family violence or intimate partner violence, is a serious issue that affects countless families across British Columbia and the entire country. At FH&P Lawyers LLP, we understand the importance of protecting individuals and families from family violence and helping those who have been victims of such abuse. In this blog post, we will explore the topic of family violence and protection orders in British Columbia, providing essential information for those who may be facing such circumstances.
Family violence and abuse can take various forms, including physical, emotional, psychological, and financial abuse. It can often occur within the context of an intimate relationship, such as spouses, common-law partners, or dating partners. Family violence can have severe and long-lasting consequences for victims, both physically and emotionally. Victims of family violence often become more at risk when they are planning to leave a relationship or amidst the high emotion surrounding a separation.
In the process of my investigations, one of my conversations with Alexis Mawko, a lawyer at FH&P Lawyers LLP, she addressed a crucial misconception about domestic violence and protection orders. Alexis explained, 'Many people think that once they get a protection order, they're immediately safe. But that's not the whole picture. If you're in immediate danger, the first thing you should always do is call 911. The police are the ones who can protect you right away. A protection order is incredibly important, but it's a part of a larger safety strategy. It sets legal boundaries for your abuser, but remember, if they cross these boundaries, it's back to calling the police. That's how you enforce it and maintain your safety.'
This valuable insight from Alexis highlights the critical steps in ensuring safety in situations of domestic violence and underscores the importance of understanding the role and limitations of protection orders.
The province of British Columbia takes family violence seriously and has implemented various laws and resources to protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable. One essential legal tool available to victims is obtaining a protection order.
There are two types or protection orders:
1. A peace bond, which is a protection order made under the Criminal Code of Canada that can protect you from anyone, including an intimate partner. An application for a peace bond proceeds through the criminal court system.
2. A family law protection order, which is a civil protection order made under the Family Law Act in family court. A protection order can be used to protect you from a partner, a former partner, or a family member. Unlike a peace bond, a family law protection order does not require the involvement of the criminal justice system.
Both peace bonds and family law protection orders are legal documents issued by a court to protect victims of violence from further harm. It is a criminal offence to not obey the conditions of a protection order and a failure to obey conditions can be enforced by the police. These conditions can include:
1. No-contact orders: The perpetrator is prohibited from contacting the victim directly or indirectly, including in-person, letters, via phone, email, or social media.
2. Stay-away orders: The perpetrator may be required to stay a certain distance away from the victim, their home, workplace, or other specified locations.
3. Residence exclusion orders: In cases where the victim and perpetrator live together, the court may order the perpetrator to vacate the shared residence.
4. Weapons surrender orders: If the court believes there is a risk of violence, the perpetrator may be required to surrender any firearms or weapons in their possession.
Obtaining a Protection Order:
It is against the law for anyone to assault you or your children, harass or stalk you, threaten you with bodily harm, or damage your property.
If you are in immediate danger, or you’re afraid for your safety and think you or your children are in immediate danger from your family member, partner, or ex-partner, call the police right away to seek help and report the abuse.
Whether or not a crime has occurred, if you are afraid that a family member, partner, or ex-partner may harm you, your children, or your current partner, you should consider applying for a protection order.
To obtain a protection order in British Columbia, it is recommended to:
1. Document the incidents of family violence by reporting the abuse to the police, keeping evidence, and seeking help from law enforcement.
2. Contact a lawyer: Consult with an experienced family law lawyer who can guide and advise you through the legal process of obtaining a family law protection order.
3. File the required court forms with the courthouse registry.
4. Be prepared to attend court hearing to present evidence of the abuse to the court.
5. Maintain copies of your protection order. If the order includes your children, provide copies to their teachers, care providers, or others involved in their lives.
6. Comply with court orders: If a protection order is granted, it is crucial to follow its provisions. It is a crime to violate a protection order.
When asked about the most crucial advice for someone beginning the process of protecting themselves from domestic violence, Alexis shared this important guidance: “The first step is to gather and keep all personal records and evidence of abuse. This could be anything from text messages and online communications to photographs. Document every incident of threat or violence, including any past police involvement or witnesses. Presenting your case for a protection order can be emotionally draining, so it's vital not only to seek legal advice but also to build a strong support network. This network might include friends, family, and counselors. Additionally, in British Columbia, there are several free services like Victim Services BC and The Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society, dedicated to helping victims navigate through family violence. Their support can be invaluable during such challenging times."
Family violence is a deeply troubling issue that affects individuals and families across British Columbia. Protection orders are a crucial legal tool that can provide much-needed protection and support to victims.
If you or someone you know is dealing with family violence and needs legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our dedicated team of family law professionals is here to support you and help you obtain the protection you need. Your safety and well-being are our top priorities, and we are ready to advocate on your behalf in court.
To take the first step toward protecting yourself or a loved one from family violence, please reach out to us today. You can schedule a confidential consultation with our experienced family law lawyers by calling 778-940-1781. Let us help you secure a safer and more secure future. Rooted In Community. Ready To Help.
The information provided in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Laws and regulations surrounding family violence and protection orders may vary, and the specific circumstances of each case can impact the legal options available.
If you are facing family violence or have questions about protection orders in British Columbia, it is crucial to consult with an experienced family law lawyer who can provide personalized advice tailored to your situation. The content of this blog post should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional legal counsel.
FH&P Lawyers LLP is not responsible for any actions taken or not taken based on the information provided in this blog post. Viewing or interacting with this content does not establish a lawyer-client relationship with our firm. Please contact us directly to discuss your specific legal needs and receive personalized guidance from our knowledgeable legal team. Your safety and well-being are of paramount importance, and we are here to help you navigate the legal process effectively and responsibly.
About the Associate: Alexis, a dedicated lawyer, integrates her legal expertise with a strong sense of community. Originally from a small town in Eastern Ontario, she earned her bachelor's degree from Carleton University in 2018 and her Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Ottawa in 2021. Now practicing at FH&P Lawyers in Kelowna, she's always ready to offer assistance, both professionally and in her cherished Okanagan valley community. Whether it's in the courtroom, on outdoor adventures, exploring local wineries, or nurturing her artistic side, Alexis embodies the values of community and support.