Relief From Abuse Order vs. Domestic Assault

An RFA is a civil court document that intends to stop violent, harassing and threatening behavior by  preventing the abuser from having contact or communication with the victim. 15 V.S.A.  § 1101.


Domestic Assault is a criminal charge that is defined as: “Any person who attempts to cause or willfully or recklessly causes bodily injury to a family or household member or willfully causes a family or household member to fear imminent serious bodily injury.” 13 V.S.A. § 1042.

man and woman arguing in their backyard
man and woman arguing in their backyard

When Do Relief From Abuse Orders and Domestic Assault Charges Overlap?

If someone is charged criminally with Domestic Assault, “DA,” then the victim in that criminal case, may also file for a Relief From Abuse order, “RFA,” with the court, but they do not have to. Oftentimes there will already be conditions of release in the criminal case preventing the Defendant from having contact with the victim, so an RFA may be unnecessary. However, the criminal conditions are only in effect while the criminal domestic assault case is pending.

Therefore, a victim may want to also obtain an RFA in order to further protect them in case the criminal case resolves. Whatever the case may be, it is important to discuss your options with us so you can get the answers or protection you’re looking for.

lawyer typing at desk next to gavil

How to File a Restraining Order in Vermont

In Vermont, you can apply for a “sexual assault or stalking protective order,” which is what is commonly referred to as a “Restraining Order.” The sexual assault or stalking protective order is an order from

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