Understanding domestic violence laws

Many people question if the laws are too lenient.
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 6:25 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -In 2021, there were more than 5,400 new domestic violence cases reported in North Dakota, according to CAWS North Dakota.

Many people question if the laws are too lenient, but with every new case, law professionals say there is more complexity to prosecution. They say these cases are very difficult to prosecute.

“I would say the laws are generally adequate. The problem of course comes done to what can the prosecutor prove. Domestic violence often occurs behind closed doors and there is nobody else that sees it,” said Leah Viste, a former prosecutor, who is now a defense attorney at Fremstad Law.

If an abuser is charged with domestic violence, it’s considered a misdemeanor, but depending on the amount of bodily injury, the charge could be enhanced to a felony.

“What often happens in cases where domestic violence is at issue is you have a victim who does not want to testify for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are scared,” said Viste.

Due to the law, there is a threshold of evidence needed. Viste says the law is fact specific, so the end result comes down to what the prosecutor can prove. She also says there needs to be more training for police officers to help them better identify possible domestic violence cases versus simple assault cases.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence you can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or text START to 88788. There are also online resources available.