Family Violence Court (FVC)
Operating in conjunction with the Akron Municipal Court, Prosecutor's Office and Probation Department, the Public Defender's Office, Oriana House, Victim Assistance, Summit Psychological Associates, and the Battered Women's Shelter, the FVC program provides a heightened level of supervision and services to eligible misdemeanor Domestic Violence offenders and the intimate partners they've victimized. This program was developed for the first-time violent offender. It is a year long diversion program. It offers early intervention through 26 weeks of batterers' intervention classes called Time Out Diversion(TOD) and intensive case management. All participants are frequently screened for drug and alcohol use, and when appropriate they are assessed for chemical dependency and may be referred into a treatment program. Participants must show financial responsibility by securing and/or maintaining employment and by paying court costs and program fees.
In order to participate in the FVC program, eligibility must be determined by Akron Municipal Court's Probation Department. During their Arraignment, the eligible defendant will be informed of their eligibility and their need to return to Court during the next FVC date. The arraigning Judge will set a $5000.00 signature bond which will allow the defendant to be released from jail that same day without posting any cash. This Judge will also sign a criminal Temporary Protection Order (TPO) on behalf of the named victim. This TPO will make it illegal for the offender to have any contact with or be within 100 yards of the protected person or their home. If there is a violation of the TPO, the protected person will need to call the police to report the violation and a new criminal charge could result.
This program is optional and all eligible defendants must decide if they will participate or not during their FVC appearance. Before making their decision, they must speak with an attorney who will explain the requirements of the program, answer questions, and give advice based on the details of their case. If an offender chooses not to participate in the FVC program after consulting their attorney, their case will be randomly allotted to 1 of the 6 Akron Municipal Court Judges.
When an offender chooses to participate in the FVC program, they enter a guilty plea to the charge of Domestic Violence, a 1st Degree Misdemeanor. If there are additional charges attached to the case, they will be dismissed. Investigators from the Prosecutor's Office will contact the named victim for input on the case and to hear any objections they may have to the defendant's participation in the FVC program, including the dismissal of any charges. Upon successful completion of the entire FVC program, the Domestic Violence charge is dismissed. One year after the dismissal and upon proper application, the court will consider sealing the record of the arrest and charge. If an offender fails to successfully complete the program, a conviction would result and they may serve up to 180 days in jail.
The Battered Women's Shelter provides a Legal Advocate to the victim identified in the FVC case who will stay in touch while the offender is in the FVC program. The advocate will keep the survivor informed of the offender's progress including any noncompliance or sanctions and is available to answer questions about the legal process, offer referrals to other beneficial services, to assist with a 5-year Civil Protection Order (CPO), or provide crisis intervention. This advocate also coordinates the Battered Women's Shelter's Early Intervention Program and Stop the Cycle classes to which the survivor may be referred.