It’s not uncommon to hear of someone getting arrested for a domestic violence incident. Sometimes, it can be an isolated incident, and the issue may be resolved relatively quickly with the help of an attorney and an understanding judge. 

But domestic violence isn’t always just one event; it can happen periodically or over a long period.


;">When you are accused of domestic violence, the court may order you to complete a domestic violence assessment to help them determine if you and your relationship are at high risk for further conflict, violence, and/or physical harm.  

">This article will talk about what a court-ordered domestic violence assessment entails and how to get one if you’re in need.

;">What Is A Court-Ordered Domestic Violence Assessment?

>A court-ordered domestic violence assessment is a way to measure the risk of continued violence and identify the need for safety planning. It’s not about criminal charges or convictions. It is about understanding the severity of the situation, including your relationship with the other person involved, and preventing harm not only to who you might be in a relationship with but to yourself and other family members or people in your household.

Domestic Violence Risk Assessment

A domestic violence risk assessment aims to evaluate the potential danger an individual may pose to their partner or children. The evaluation is used to make decisions about interventions and treatment options.

A court-ordered domestic violence assessment will typically include a review of:

  • History of domestic violence

  • Employment history

  • Mental health history

  • Substance abuse history

  • Family history

  • History of military service

After the evaluation, the individual will be considered in terms of low, moderate, or high risk for future violent behavior and provided with appropriate recommendations to reduce the risks going forward. 


Why Do You Need A Domestic Violence Assessment?

A court-ordered domestic violence assessment is a mandatory requirement for the criminal justice system for someone who has been arrested, accused of, or charged with domestic violence. The judge typically orders the assessment and determines whether or not the person needs additional help to deal with their situation.

The assessment may also ask for an assessment of other issues that may have contributed to the incident, such as substance use, anger management skills, your general or overall mental health and stress levels recently, or the health of your relationships. The court can order these programs to help the person prevent future occurrences of abuse.


What Does The Assessment Involve?

The assessment includes a written questionnaire followed by an interview with a professional evaluator where you’ll be asked to provide more detail on your background, occupation, relationships, and so forth.

You’ll be asked about any history of drug or alcohol abuse, as well as any mental health issues. The evaluator will also ask about the specific incidents that led to the court order for the assessment. 

The Process Of The Assessment

A court-ordered domestic violence assessment is a mandated evaluation if someone has been accused of committing an act of violence or abuse. It may also be a voluntary assessment if your attorney believes it is in your best interest to obtain the assessment before your next hearing. The assessment could also be part of pre-trial diversion, probation, or parole release terms.

This process usually takes about 60 to 90 minutes and is done by a licensed professional will evaluate the defendant's risk of future violence.

The court-ordered assessment consists of three stages:

  • Identifying which type of abuse the offender has committed

  • Determining the severity of the abuse

  • Determining the likelihood that the defendant will commit future abuse

At each stage, the evaluator will ask you questions about your thoughts on certain situations and how you might react in those scenarios.

The Benefits Of A DVA

The benefits of a court-ordered domestic violence assessment (DVA) are numerous. The assessment can provide valuable information and feedback to help you develop a safety plan, strengthen your situation, or find out what resources are available.

A DVA can also allow you to take responsibility for your actions and learn how to change your behavior. If you are ordered to participate in counseling or other treatment programs, the DVA can help you find the necessary resources to get started.

What Are The Risks Of A DVA?

The risks of a DVA are relatively low. However, there is always the possibility that the assessment could result in a recommendation for further treatment or evaluation if the assessor believes you pose a danger to yourself or others.

How To Get One

Getting a court-ordered or voluntary domestic violence assessment is an integral part of protecting your safety and well-being. The assessment will help you better understand the risks of your situation and what steps you can take to minimize the likelihood of another similar incident. 

The assessment consists of a variety of components that will help the evaluator better understand your experience with domestic violence, including:

  • Interviewing you about your history with domestic violence, including any incidents that have happened recently

  • Reviewing records such as police reports, medical records, school records, and other documents that may  shed light on your overall situation

The evaluator will use this information to determine whether or not there is abuse in your relationship and suggest how you can best protect yourself from further incidents or accusations.

For example, if the evaluator determines that there has been some physical violence or abuse in the past or present, they can then go over what you should do next. They may recommend counseling services or legal representation for you where needed, among other things.

You might also get a referral for other services to meet all of your needs.


What Happens After The Assessment?

After completing the assessment, the evaluator will write a report detailing their findings.

This report will be provided to the court and will be used to help determine what kind of sentence, if any, you may receive.

If the assessor believes that you pose a danger to yourself or others, they may recommend that you undergo further treatment or evaluation.

If you are deemed low risk, the court may order you to attend counseling sessions or participate in other programs designed to help those convicted of domestic violence.

After the meeting, the judge will decide what they want to happen next. Depending on what they choose, you might get supervised visitation, or they might order that your abuser can’t come near you for some time.

If the judge orders supervised visitation, there would be an officer with you when you go see your families and children.

It's important to know that getting an assessment does not waive any custody rights; it just tells them where the situation stands now to aid the court in potential decisions on how it should be handled.

Where Can You Find Additional Resources?

If you are ordered to participate in a DVA, some resources can help you prepare for the assessment and find the resources you need to get started.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) can provide information, support, and referrals to local programs and resources.

Your state or local domestic violence organization can also offer information and assistance. To find an organization near you, visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website (

The resources on these links are not exhaustive and should not be interpreted as legal advice. If you need additional help or counseling, don't hesitate to get in touch with the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit their website.

Final Thoughts

A court-ordered domestic violence assessment can be a valuable tool to help you take responsibility for your actions and learn how to change your behavior.  However, it is important to understand the risks and benefits of this assessment before you agree to participate.

If you are ordered to participate in counseling or other treatment programs, the DVA can help you find the resources you need to get started. However, there is always the possibility that the assessment could result in a recommendation for further treatment or evaluation if the assessor believes you pose a danger to yourself or others.