After a family violence case is detected and investigated by law enforcement offi cers or protective service employees, a decision is made as to whether the case will be turned over to the courts for judicial resolution. In some cases, efforts are made to keep the case out of the courts at all costs. In other cases, the courts are the only institution available to provide services that would meet some victim’s needs. In family violence cases, however, the victim’s place in the life course will infl uence the type of response they will receive from the courts. Unfortunately, in some cases the response is less than satisfactory. Consider the following examples of family violence cases:
Indeed, family violence victims experience an array of problems once their cases reach the court system. Part of the reason for the problems concerns the complexity of the courts. There are several different types of courts that hear cases in the family justice system. At the broadest level, three types of courts are involved in family violence cases-criminal courts, civil courts, and family courts. Criminal courts are those courts individuals generally think of when thinking about the judicial system. These are the courts depicted in television shows such as “Law and Order” and the once popular “The Practice” and “Night Court.” The aim of a criminal court is to determine beyond a reasonable doubt whether an individual committed a crime. In criminal cases, the offense is seen as an attack against the state and the prosecutor will represent the state in these matters. In essence, crimes are seen as public wrongs and the state has a duty to correct these wrongs in criminal courts.