Domestic Violence in Kentucky is defined as physical injury, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical injury, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, or assault between members of a qualifying relationship.

The court may issue an order protection for a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, abuse, stalking, and/or sexual assault. Protective order cases are different from criminal cases. Protective orders are intended to prevent future acts of violence or abuse. A criminal case is usually handled by the county attorney, who prosecutes the respondent for acts of violence or abuse that have already taken place.

Kentucky law affords protections from domestic violence, dating violence, abuse, stalking, and/or sexual assault for those individuals in the following “qualifying relationships”:

  1. Family members. “Family member” is defined as a current or former spouse, parent, grandparent, stepchild, or child. If the victim is a child, then all members in the household are considered a “family member.”
  2. Members of an unmarried couple. If people are currently living or once lived or resided together with the victim, they are considered members of an “unmarried couple.”
  3. Those who have or have had an intimate or romantic relationship.
  4. Victims of stalking or sexual assault.

In Kentucky, the law will increase penalties for repeat domestic violence offenders, as well as impose penalties for violations of existing protective orders.

Who is Protected by Protective Orders:

You can request protection for yourself, your children and/or other persons who you believe may need protection. If you are an adult and believe a child needs protection but you do not, you may file a petition on behalf of that child. If you are under the age of 18, an adult may file a petition for you.

Emergency Protective Orders / Temporary Interpersonal Protective Orders

When a person files a petition and requests an emergency protective order (EPO) or a temporary interpersonal protective order (TIPO), the judge may issue such an order if the allegations in the petition indicate there is an immediate danger of domestic violence. When this petition is filed, the alleged abuser will not be notified, if requested. No hearing requiring both parties is needed for the judge to issue an EPO / TIPO.

An EPO may:

  1. Make temporary custody orders;
  2. Require the respondent to vacate the home shared with the petitioner;
  3. Require the respondent to stay a specified distance from the petitioner or petitioner’s children;
  4. Prohibit the respondent from coming within a specified distance of the residence, workplace, school of the petitioner, the petitioner’s children, family member, or member of an unmarried couple protected in the order;
  5. Prohibit the respondent from committing further acts of abuse;
  6. Prohibit the respondent from contacting or communicating with the petitioner; and
  7. Prohibit the respondent from damaging or disposing of the parties’ property.

Domestic Violence Orders / Interpersonal Protective Orders:

If an EPO / IPO is entered, it remains in effect until a full hearing with both the petitioner and respondent present. This hearing is usually held within 14 days of the issued EPO / IPO. During this hearing, if evidence shows the perpetrator physically injured or assaulted the petitioner, sexually abused or sexually assaulted the petitioner; threatened to physically injure or assault the petitioner, stalked the petitioner, done something to place the petitioner in fear of imminent physical injury, serious physical injury, or sexual abuse or assault, and that such may occur again in the future, then the judge may issue a domestic violence order (DVO) or Interpersonal Protective Order (IPO) that lasts a duration of up to three years. The DVO or IPO can be extended one time for additional three years, provided the original DVO or IPO has not lapsed. With a DVO or IPO, the judge can set temporary child support and require counseling but is not required to resolve other matters between the petitioner and respondent.

Violation of a Protective Order:

If a perpetrator is found to be in violation of a protective order, they may be held in contempt in civil court or charged criminally for violating such protective order. Oftentimes, the criminally charged faces a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail. Other charges may sometimes be necessary.

If the violation is substantial enough, the judge may require the respondent to wear a tracking monitor to prevent a future violation. These more severe violations include stalking, terroristic threats, sexual offenses, burglary, and any felony committed against the one being protected and under the protective order.

Penalties For Repeat Offenders:

Any person charged with a repeat offense of a third or subsequent assault in the fourth degree within a five-year period may be charged with a Class D Felony. If convicted of a Class D Felony, the convicted could potentially serve up to 5 years in prison.

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence that is life-threatening, always call 911 first. If you have legal questions or need to know how to protect you or someone you love from domestic violence, contact us at (502) 383-1550 or schedule a consultation.