The Legal Advocacy Project provides free, comprehensive legal services for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors with legal issues in the areas of privacy, safety, immigration, and family law.
However, this list is not exhaustive, if you are a survivor and feel the need for legal services, feel free to contact our offices for referral of agencies that might be able to help you in your legal matter. Anyone can be a victim of sexual violence, and domestic violence, we are proud to serve survivors of all gender identities, sexual orientations, races, and religions in Los Angeles County.
Types of services
LEGAL ADVOCACY FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS
In the court and disciplinary hearings, officials often neglect to provide appropriate protections for the rights of the survivors. For sexual assault survivors, Peace Over Violence provides information about civil legal remedies and about the criminal and civil legal process as well as accompaniment to court and disciplinary hearings. The Legal Advocacy Project believes justice depends on equal access to the courts. The project works to ensure the survivors access to our courts and justice system by enabling and expanding legal assistance and representation in these cases.
If you wish, an advocate will accompany you to any of your sexual or domestic violence related court appointments and we will help you understand what to expect and what information to bring with you.
PRO BONO REPRESENTATION
Volunteer attorneys licensed in the state of California provide limited scope representation as counsel of record. Cases referred to the Pro Bono Panel typically involve multiple issues of custody, violence, support and/or property. The Legal Advocacy Project Manager assigns one case at a time based on the lawyer's skill, experience and preference.
The Legal Advocacy Project with the help of law students and volunteer attorneys provide legal services on a volunteer basis to a variety of communities in the greater Los Angeles area. Clinic volunteer meets face to face with the clients, screen them for their needs and provides support with their initial step of the petition and guide them through the process.
A restraining order or a “protective order” is a court order that can protect someone from being physically or sexually abused, threatened, stalked, or harassed.
The person getting the restraining order is called the “protected person.” The person the restraining order is against is the “restrained person.”
Emergency Protective Order (EPO)
If a police officer responds to a domestic violence call, depending on the severity of the case and/or the safety of the survivors, the police officer might be able to request from a judge or a commissioner an EPO. It is served on an emergency basis. The EPO protection can last anywhere between 3 to 7 days.
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
A TRO or a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) is a short-term civil order issued by the state court judge. The TRO when obtained ex parte must be served upon the respondent (opposing party) to give the respondent notice to the terms of the TRO and a reasonable notice to respond at the hearing of Permanent Restraining Order. After the TRO is served to the opposing party, by anyone who is 18 years or old, and not party to the case, the proof of service needs to be filed with the court 5 days before the hearing of Permanent Restraining Order. The TRO is valid for up to 25-30 days.
Permanent Restraining Order or Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)
After the TRO, the petitioner (the party who is filing the Restraining Order) and respondent (The party against whom the restraining order is being filed), present themselves at the hearing date. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge decides if the protective order (DVPO) shall be granted and if so, until what duration. The duration of DVPO can span from 1 year upto 5 years.
A domestic violence restraining order may be obtained by any individual who is or has been in the following relationships: a spouse or former spouse, a cohabitant or former cohabitant, a person with whom the survivor is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship, a person with whom the survivor has had a child. Most commonly, domestic violence restraining orders are led immediately following a domestic violence incident. However, that is not always the case, a domestic violence restraining order can be led at any time if a survivor fears for their safety and the safety of their family due to having been threatened, harassed or stalked.
For more information: http://www.courts.ca.gov/1264.htm
If you have any questions or concern, please contact an attorney or call our offices.
If you are an immigrant victim of sexual assault and domestic violence, Legal Advocacy Project can help you to assess what immigration relief you might qualify for.
VAWA: Violence Against Women Act
This type of relief is available to victims of extreme cruelty or battery by U.S. citizens or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouses, parents, or children. Through VAWA, you may be eligible to file a petition for immigration status without your abuser's assistance or knowledge.
In order to qualify for a VAWA self-petition, you must show that:
- You have a qualifying relationship with an abusive U.S. citizen or LPR;
- You had a good faith marriage (if the petition is based on a spousal relationship);
- You were subject to battery or extreme cruelty by the citizen or LPR;
- You resided with the abuser; and,
- You are a person of good moral character.
These are the general requirements for a VAWA self-petition and do not address any immigration inadmissibility that may apply to you. If you are a victim of battery or extreme cruelty by a spouse, parent, or child, please consult with an attorney to see if you would qualify for this visa.
The U-Visa is a temporary visa that is available for victims of specific types of crime. In order to qualify for a U-visa, you must show that:
- You were a victim of a qualifying crime;
- The crime occurred in the U.S. or violated the laws of the U.S.;
- You were, are, or are likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and
- You suffered substantial physical or mental harm as a result of having been a victim of the crime.
These are the general requirements for a U-visa and do not address any grounds of inadmissibility that may apply to you. If you were the victim of a crime, please consult with an attorney to see if you would qualify for this visa.
The T-Visa is a visa that is available for victims of trafficking, both domestic and international.
In order to qualify for a T-visa, you must show that:
- You are a victim of trafficking, as defined by law;
- You are physically present in the U.S., a U.S. territory, or a port of entry due to trafficking;
- You complied with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking crime; and,
- You resided with the abuser; and,
- You would suffer extreme hardship involving severe and unusual harm if removed from the U.S.
These are the general requirements for a T-visa and do not address any grounds of inadmissibility that may apply to you. If you are a victim of trafficking, please consult with an attorney to see if you would qualify for this visa.
PLEASE NOTE: Immigration laws continuously change. If you have any specific questions about any of Immigration issues, please consult an Immigration Attorney or call our offices. For more information, please see United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
You have certain family law rights regardless of your immigration status.
These rights include child custody and visitation, paternity case, child support and spousal support, divorce, and legal separation.
California is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that in order to get a divorce there does not need to be proof that any of the parties to the case did something wrong and you do not need the other party to cooperate with the divorce process.
The Legal Advocacy Project helps to permanently end a legal marriage and/or registered domestic partnership and to establish rights to community and separate property for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
For more information: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-divorce.htm
Child Visitation & Custody
In California, either parent can have custody or they may share custody, in any case the judge make the final decision or the parties could reach their own agreement. We provide services to request custody and visitation rights of minor children and modify current orders depending on the circumstances of the case.
Physical custody means where the child lives
Legal custody means the party who makes decisions for the child involving school, healthcare, etc..
For more information: http://www.courts.ca.gov/17975.htm
The Legal Advocacy Project helps the parents with initial requests for support orders about minor children, including health and child care expenses. We also help with requests to modify current orders for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
For more information: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-support.htm
The Legal Advocacy Project helps separated persons to get initial orders for spousal or partner support (including health insurance) as well as requests to modify orders for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
For more information: http://www.courts.ca.gov/1038.htm
The Legal Advocacy Project helps establish, and /or defend against requests to establish, rights of parentage for unmarried parents as well as paternity issues in divorce cases for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
For more information: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-parentage.htm