As I reported in today’s Gazette, the West Virginia Supreme Court established new precedents in an opinion published Monday. The heart of the decision is this: Actual violence is not a prerequisite for getting a domestic violence protective order, or for violating West Virginia’s domestic violence laws.
Here are the two new syllabus points (numbers 5 and 6 of the opinion):
5. The act of domestic violence defined in West Virginia Code 48-27-202 (5) (2001) as “[h]olding, confining, detaining or abducting another person against that person’s will” does not require proof of some overt physical exertion on the part of the alleged offender in order to justify issuance of a protective order.
6. The act of domestic violence defined in West Virginia Code 48-27-202 (3) (2001) as “[c]reating fear of physical harm by harassment, psychological abuse or threatening acts” provides that fear of physical harm may be established with (1) proof of harassment, (2) proof of psychological abuse, or (3) proof of overt or covert threatening acts.
As I’ve written before, it’s pretty noteworthy when new precedents are set. Here’s hoping that judges, magistrates and law enforcement (and particularly potential violators) all around the state got the Supreme Court’s message.