Domestic Violence Handbook

A self help legal guide prepared by New Directions, the Domestic Abuse Shelter and Rape Crisis Center of Knox County and approved by the City Law Director



If you feel threatened or endangered by another person’s behavior, or if you need emergency medical treatment, call 911 immediately.


New Directions

24-hour crisis hotline, Shelter, Individual and group advocacy for adults and children, Court and hospital accompaniment for sexual assault examinations, Prevention education


Mount Vernon Police Department

Danville Police Department

Fredericktown Police Department

Knox County Sheriff Department


Mount Vernon City Law Director, P. Robert Broeren

Assistant City Law Director, Brittany Whitney

Knox County Prosecutor, Chip McConville

Diana Oswalt, Victim Advocate


Mount Vernon Municipal Court

Knox County Common Pleas Court


Knox County Children and Family Services Division


Knox Community Hospital



Domestic violence is the threat, attempt or act of physical harm made against you by a member of your family or someone you live with, or have lived with in the past five years or if you are related by blood or marriage, or if you have a child together but have never lived together.

Ohio Revised Code Section 2919.25 – Domestic Violence

  1. No person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member.
  2. No person shall recklessly cause serious physical harm to a family or household member.
  3. No person, by threat of force, shall knowingly cause a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.


Stalking is two or more incidents closely related in time that cause you to believe that the offender will harm you.

Ohio Revised Code Section 2903.211- Menacing by Stalking

  1. No person by engaging in a pattern of conduct shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the other person or cause mental distress to the other person.


Trespassing is when the offender enters or remains at your residence with the intent to harm you or a household member or to cause you or a household member to believe that the offender will harm you.

Ohio Revised Code Section 2911.211 – Aggravated Trespass

  1. No person shall enter or remain on the land or premises of another with the purpose to commit on that land or those premises a misdemeanor, the elements of which involve causing physical harm to another person or causing another person to believe that the offender will cause physical harm.


  1. Call 911 as soon as possible. A police officer or a sheriff’s deputy will respond and file a report.  You may be asked to give a statement. (Even where criminal charges are not ultimately pursued, a police report will serve to document the incident and may be used in future criminal or civil proceedings).
  1. The officer must determine who was primary aggressor based on:
  • History of violence
  • The injuries and comparative severity
  • Initiation, retaliation and self-defense
  • Fear due to threat and reasonableness of fear
  1. Under Ohio law, it is preferred that the primary aggressor be arrested at the scene. If the officer does not arrest the offender, they must document in their report the reason(s) why.  The prosecutor will then determine whether to file charges.
  1. You can request a Temporary Protection Order (TPO), though the order will not be in effect until the judge issues it at arraignment.
  1. If the offender is arrested, he is booked into jail. He could bond out. A condition of the bond may be to stay away from you, though if the bond is posted by someone other than the offender (for example, a bondsman), the stay away may not be in effect.
  1. The defendant (offender) will be arraigned and given the opportunity to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If they plead guilty or no contest (admitting to the facts of the case, without guilt) they will be found guilty. Usually a pre-sentence investigation is ordered and sentencing is set for a later date.
  1. If the defendant pleads not guilty, a trial will be set.
  1. At the arraignment, you can request a TPO even if you did not request one at the scene of the incident. You will be asked to describe the incident at issue and address whether you fear for your safety from the defendant.  If the judge grants the TPO, the defendant will be ordered to stay away from you and possibly your children if they witnessed the abuse.  A TPO is in effect until the completion of the case.
  2. Among the rights you have is to be notified of hearings. It is very important that you inform the court and the prosecutor’s office of any changes in your address or phone number.  You also have the right to have an advocate in court with you as well as provide a victim impact statement.


If you, a family member or household member has been the victim of domestic violence, stalking, trespassing, or an act to a child that would result in the child being an abused child and the offender is a family or household member, you can file a petition for a CPO.

You can file for a CPO if no criminal charges were filed against the offender. Even if charges were filed and a TPO was issued, you can still get a CPO.

In a CPO, the judge can order the abuser to stay away from your residence, workplace, and school. The judge can order the abuser to refrain from abusing you, telephoning you, harassing you, or threat-ening you directly or through a third party. The judge can award custody and establish visitation rights with regard to the children. The judge can order child support, spousal support, exclusive use of the residence, counseling, use of a motor vehicle, division of property, and any other relief necessary for your or your family’s protection.

There are no filing fees, but there would be attorney fees if you hire a private attorney. The Ohio Attorney General’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Program may pay for an attorney, and other expenses.

First, you file a petition. You can do this on your own, or the county prosecutor’s victim advocate or New Directions can assist you.

If there is a sufficient basis in the petition, the court will grant an ex-parte order. It will remain in effect until the hearing on the final Civil Protection Order. At the hearing, you must explain to the judge why a CPO is necessary to protect yourself or a family member from further harm by the offender. The offender has the right to also present evidence. If you fail to appear at the hearing, the judge will not grant a CPO.

A CPO can remain in effect for up to five years.


If the criminal complaint alleges aggravated menacing, menacing by stalking, menacing, or aggravated trespass, and you are not a family or household member, you can request an Anti-Stalking Protection Order for the abuser to stay away from your residence, workplace, or school and refrain from telephoning, harassing, or threatening you directly or through another person.  It can also include any other terms necessary to ensure your safety and protection. 


If the offender/defendant violates the terms of a Temporary Protection Order, Civil Protection Order or Anti-Stalking Protection Order, you should call 911 to report the criminal offense.

Section 2919.27 – Violation of Protection Order

  • No person shall recklessly violate any terms of a protection order issued or consent agreement approved pursuant to section 2919.26 or 3113.31 of the Revised Code or the terms of an anti-stalking protection order issued pursuant to section 2903.213 or the Revised Code.

If the defendant has a prior conviction for violating a protection order, a second offense is a felony instead of a misdemeanor.


If you choose to hire a private attorney in a divorce or custody case, fees can range up to several thousand dollars.  There is an initial filing fee. If you have no money, it may be possible for the attorney to file a poverty affidavit that will pay the filing fee.

When you file for a divorce, you can request a Temporary Restraining Order, which restrains everyone from disposing of property and sets other limits. You can also request a motion to vacate, which means the offender can be ordered to vacate the marital home.

Emergency Exit