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Legal Information: General


Below is general information about crimes. Even if you do not qualify for a restraining order, the abuser may have committed a crime. If you call the police, they may arrest him/her for a crime.

Each state has its own list of crimes and definition of crimes. These definitions and explanations are usually located in the Penal Code or Criminal Code of that state's legal statutes, which you may be able to find on our State Statutes page for your state.

What are some crimes that the abuser may have committed?

Some states have a specific crime of  "domestic violence," and others do not.  Note: Even if there is a crime of domestic violence, the definition of that crime may not be the same as the definition of domestic violence used for getting a restraining order.  Check the restraining order pages for your state under our Know the Laws page for more information on the definition of domestic violence for getting a restraining order.

Whether or not a state has a specific crime of domestic violence, it will have other crimes that the abuser may have committed.  If the abuser has mis-used technology in a way that you believe may be a crime, go to our Abuse Using Technology section to learn what types of behaviors are covered under criminal state laws.  Crimes in your state may include:

  • Assault
  • Threats (or menacing)
  • Endangerment
  • Criminal coercion
  • Kidnapping
  • Unlawful imprisonment
  • Sexual offenses (e.g., sexual assault, rape)
  • Trespassing
  • Harassment
  • Stalking.

Where can I find additional information about crimes?

You may learn more about crimes by calling your local police department, sheriff's department, or district attorney's office.  See our Sheriff Departments page for the contact information for your local sheriff's department.

If you are a victim of domestic violence and have been charged with a crime, see our National Organizations page for Battered Women Charged with Crimes.  Other resources for victims of crime are listed on our National Organizations page for Crime Victims.

You may want to contact the Stalking Resource Center if you are being stalked or harassed and see our Safety Tips for Stalking Victims page.