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Municipal laws penalize domestic violence victims

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging a municipal ordinance that has a negative impact on victims of domestic violence by encourging landlords to evict tenants who have had the police called three times within four months. If landlords do not evict those tenants then they face a fine from the city. While at first glance this doesn’t seem like a problem – no one wants disorderly neighbors – the truth is that it often affects those who were not responsible for the disruptive conduct, but rather those who were victims of it.

In domestic violence cases, this can mean an unfair eviction for people who have had to call the police about their spouse or signficant other several times in the past few months. Laws like this could also discourage reporting of domestic violence incidents by creating this penalty for calls to the police.

These types of ordinances may be a violation of the Violence Against Women Act, as well as the right to due process and other essential protections.

Las Vegas residents who are victims of domestic violence have a right to police protection from their abuser. In addition to seeking immediate intervention when an attack occurs, victims can also seek an order for protection to prevent their abuser from being near or contacting them. Orders for protection can also keep abusive parents away from chlidren while a long term solution is in the works. An order for protection can be a good first step to obtaining a divorce and sole child custody.

Source:Philadelphia Post-Inquirer, “ACLU: ‘Three strikes’ evicted battered woman from home,‘ Frank Kummer, April 25, 2013.

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