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.