Specialized domestic violence courts centralize resources and trained staff to handle a dedicated domestic violence docket. Domestic violence courts operate in jurisdictions across the country, adapting to local laws and court structure, available resources, and community-specific needs. While there is no one model for a specialized domestic violence court, they rely on some common strategies and goals to ensure victim/survivor safety, a robust coordinated community response, and accountability and engagement for those who cause harm.
The Beltrami County Domestic Violence Court and Coordinated Community Response Project in Bemidji, Minnesota has devoted attention to the following key areas that are part of any domestic violence court response.
Separate seating areas, staggered departure times for victims and offenders, security escorts, and on-site access to advocates and civil legal assistance all help to ensure that victims coming to the courthouse stay safe and free from harassment or intimidation.
Law enforcement uses questions designed to assess lethality risk when responding to 911 domestic violence calls. Incorporating risk assessment tools involves extensive training and strong partnerships with victim advocates. Interested jurisdictions should contact the Lethality Assessment Program for more information.
Abusive Partner Intervention and Probation
In a unique pairing, a mental health provider and a probation officer co-facilitate abusive partner intervention classes.
Regular compliance review hearings ensure that judges get frequent reports about an offender’s progress and send the message that the court is paying attention to any possible violations or safety concerns.
Rural Coordinated Community Response and Collaboration
Strong partnerships and creative solutions help rural communities to address the specific challenges they face.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2015-TA-AX-K023 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.