Domestic Violence Law in Missouri: The Basics
If you are here, then you are either a victim of domestic violence or you have been accused of domestic violence. In either case, it is important to know the legal ramifications of Missouri domestic abuse laws.
There are two types of cases involving domestic violence, civil and criminal. A criminal case is brought by the prosecuting attorney of the county the parties live in. Whether charges are brought is generally outside of the control of the parties, except that notifying the police of any incident is required to start the criminal process.
Bringing a civil case on the other hand is within your control. A civil case as it relates to domestic violence in Missouri is called an Order of Protection. An Order of Protection is basically a safe guard that the Court puts in place to protect you. The Order will usually restrict the offender from coming within 500 feet of you, among other things.
To receive an Order of Protection, you must file for one at the County adult abuse office. You will then receive a hearing date and must show up at that hearing date to explain to the Judge why you need the Order. This can be a very scary thing to do considering the circumstances, but it is an important step to protect yourself from future abuse.
If you have been served with an Order of Protection, then the best thing you can do is make sure you comply with the Order. Also, be sure to show up to your Court date, ideally with an attorney. If you feel you are innocent then be sure to bring any evidence or witnesses that support your case.
An Order of Protection should not be taken lightly. It can have serious legal consequences, as well as affecting your personal life, such as ability to find employment. Please research the topic thoroughly before making a rash decision regarding your case.
I’m a Victim of Domestic Abuse: What Should I Do?
There are a number of options for you if you are a victim of domestic violence. While they may not all fit your situation, in general, the following steps are in your best interest:
- Call the police – Domestic violence is a crime. While lawyers can help you take legal action, emergency services should always be the first step. The police can immediately take you out of an unsafe situation, remove the abuser from the situation, and point you in the direction of appropriate resources. Calling the police is also important because a police report may be the only evidence you have to use in a Court case, so it is important to help you achieve justice.
- Seek medical attention – Again, seeking legal help is not the most immediate issue. Making sure you are healthy and safe is. Even if you think the injuries are not that serious, it is better to be safe than sorry. There is a chance you may not realize how serious your injuries are due to the traumatic nature of the situation. Also, as mentioned before, evidence is important for your Court case, so creating medical records may come in handy down the road.
- Find safe housing – Whether it be with family, friends or in one of the many local shelters, finding a safe place to stay is critical to your ability to cope with the situation. Please check out our list of St. Louis domestic abuse shelters.
- File an Order of Protection – After your safety and health has been assured, the next step is pursuing your continued safety through the Court system. You can file and Order of Protection on your own or hire a lawyer to help you through the process. Either way, getting one in place is important to give you peace of mind regarding your safety moving forward.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, then please look thoroughly through the other resources in our domestic violence corner. It is critical that you become aware of all the potential options to help you, as there are a number of them in Missouri, around the St. Louis area and otherwise.
Domestic Violence Shelters in St. Louis, Missouri
ALIVE: Alternative to Living in Violent Environments
St. Louis 24-hour Crisis Line: 314.993.2777
P.O. Box 11201
St. Louis, MO 63105
Office: 314.993.7080 Fax: 314.567.5629
Alive provides a temporary place to stay, as well as transportation for victims of domestic violence. They are open all hours of every day, including holidays.
St. Charles County – The Women’s Center in St. Charles
24-Hour Toll-Free Crisis Line: 877-946-6854
Lincoln County – The Terry L. Robertson Center in Troy
24-Hour Toll-Free Crisis Line: 877-462-1758
Bridgeway operates safe shelters for victims in St. Charles County and Lincoln County for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.
2727 N. Kingshighway
St. Louis, MO 63113
Covenant House provides resources for teens in crisis. They also provide a confidential crisis phone number (800-999-9999), as well as an online forum:
1000 North 19th St.
St. Louis, MO 63106
Gateway provides emergency shelter services to help get families into transitional or permanent homes in under 30 days. The organization also works hand in hand with Grace Hill and Washington University to provide medical services.
St. Louis, MO 63106
Another shelter that helps the homeless and pregnant women. They also make an effort to assist with education, employment, and finding permanent residence.
1840 Hogan St.
St. Louis, MO 63106
Karen House is a Catholic Worker house helping homeless women and children. While they work with the Housing Resource Center, they do accept walk-ins, if they have availability.
2750 McKelvey Rd,
Maryland Heights, MO 63043
This is a thirty day emergency shelter for women and children. However, a Housing Resource Center referral is required.
Community and faith-based domestic violence education, transitional housing, crisis intervention, court advocacy, support groups for women and children, case management.
Missionaries of Charity
3629 Cottage Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63113
Emergency shelter for women and small children. Call in the morning to see if they have openings that night. 21 day limit. It is NOT necessary to have a Housing Resource Center referral.
St. Louis, MO 63103
The St. Louis shelter allows stays up to 14 days for women and children. Efforts are also made to assist in finding transitional or permanent housing.
4223 South Compton
St. Louis, MO 63111
Provides a maternity shelter for pregnant women, who are 18 and older and their minor children.
4130 Lindell Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108
Short-term shelter and transition housing for mentally ill adults, including homeless outreach.
3415 Bridgeland Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63044
St. Louis County immediate, temporary, emergency shelter system for women and families, regardless of age or gender of the children.
10740 West Page Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63132
Shelter for families for a maximum of 120 days.
St. Patrick Partnership Center
800 North Tucker
St. Louis, MO 63101
The Center offers a limited number of spots for mentally ill women.
A wide variety of services including emergency shelter, court advocacy, therapy options for women and children, and support groups.
314-772-4535 (24-hour crisis hotline)
A shelter for battered women and their children. Services include legal advocacy, housing referrals, support groups, children’s programs, and limited transportation. Utilizes restorative justice practices.