How Professional Athletes Help Improve Domestic Violence Prevention Laws

On February 15, 2014, professional football player Ray Rice was video recorded knocking his girlfriend, Janay Palmer, unconscious in a hotel elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey. On March 27, 2014, the Atlantic County grand jury indicted him on third degree aggravated assault. On March 28, 2014, Rice married Palmer, and on May 20, 2014, Rice made an agreement with prosecutors to a pretrial intervention program (PIT) to avoid prosecution. The terms of the agreement were not made public.

California has its own history of domestic violence abuse by famous athletes, including OJ Simpson. He and his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson had a tumultuous marriage with many allegations by Nicole of physical abuse by OJ. She filed numerous police complaints, but OJ was only arrested once. In that instance, the police found her with a swollen black eye, a bruised cheek, a split lip and a handprint on her neck. OJ was fined $700 and ordered to attend counseling. Five years later, Nicole was murdered. OJ was found not guilty of her death in his criminal trial, but was found liable for her death civilly.

The notoriety of the Simpson case – especially the failure of the police and legal system to protect Nicole from abuse – spurred the changes in California's domestic abuse laws. Now, domestic abuse is defined as willfully causing or attempting to cause physical injury, sexual assault, or fear of immediate serious bodily injury.

The abuser/abuse relationship no longer has to be that of spouses (or former spouses) either. The relationship can also be that of persons living (a formerly living) together, related by blood or marriage (kinship), in a dating (or former dating) relationship, or having a child(ren) together.

Requests for restraining orders to prevent domestic abuse are also more easily obtainable. Forms are available and written in plain language. Courts now have family law facilitators or self-help centers to assist those needing assistance in filling out the forms. Family law attorneys can also help in filing restraining orders too.

Domestic abuse restraining orders can order alleged abusers not to contact the one in fear and/or family members by stay-away orders and/or move-out (of the home) orders. They can also order that children not be moved from their local area and/or that property not be removed.

Newer California domestic violence prevention laws also prevent the alleged abuser from possessing guns and preventing employers from firing employees who have protection orders on file.

For further information, contact a family law special through a local bar association or the county court system for family law facilitative help or self-help center locations.

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