Hawaii Domestic Violence Laws

By , Attorney (Georgia State University College of Law)

Hawaii makes it illegal to physically abuse a family or household member. In addition to providing criminal penalties for the abuser, Hawaii provides a system where a victim of domestic abuse may obtain a court-issued protective order. The law also places specific duties on law enforcement officers when investigating allegations of domestic abuse.

Abuse of a Family or Household Member

Hawaii outlaws the physical abuse of a person who is a family or household member. Hawaii defines a family or household member as:

  • spouses or persons registered as reciprocal beneficiaries
  • former spouses or reciprocal beneficiaries
  • persons who have a child in common
  • parents
  • children
  • people related by blood, and
  • people who currently or formerly lived together in the same home.

Physical abuse of a family or household member is a misdemeanor. A first offense is punished by a minimum of 48 hours in jail. A defendant who commits a second domestic abuse offense within a year of being convicted for the first offense must serve a minimum of 30 days in jail. If the offense involves strangulation or impeding the victim's blood flow, the offense is a Class C felony. Class C felonies may be punished by up to five years in prison.

(Haw. Rev. Stat. § § 706-660, 709-906)

Law Enforcement Duties

When investigating allegations of domestic abuse, law enforcement officers have certain obligations that they must fulfill. Hawaii law also specifies powers that an officer may or must exercise in domestic abuse investigations. For example, officers may arrest without a warrant any person whom the officers have reasonable grounds to believe is abusing or has abused a family or household member.

Officers may also order the suspect to leave the home for a period of 24 hours, during which time the suspect may not contact the victim. If the suspect refuses to leave, or if the suspect contacts the victim during the 24-hour period, an officer must arrest the suspect.

Officers must complete a written report in all domestic violence investigations.

(Haw. Rev. Stat. § 709-906)

Domestic Abuse Protective Orders

A family or household member may petition the court for a domestic violence order of protection. A petition may also be filed on behalf of a family or household member who is a minor, an incapacitated adult, or a person physically unable to file a petition with the court. For the purposes of protective orders, domestic abuse is defined as "physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the threat of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, extreme psychological abuse or malicious property damage" committed between family or household members or any act that constitutes criminal physical abuse of a family or household member.

A petition for a protective order must allege at least one of the following:

  • that an act or acts of domestic violence have occurred in the past
  • that past threats of abuse make it probable that domestic violence will soon be committed
  • that extreme psychological abuse or malicious property damage will soon be committed.

The petition must be accompanied by a statement, made under oath, containing specific facts that support the victim's request for a protective order. A court may issue the protective order where it determines that doing so is necessary to prevent domestic abuse or a recurrence of domestic abuse. The court must hold a hearing where the respondent (the person who the petition filer seeks protection from) is given the opportunity to present evidence.

The order may include any provisions from a temporary order (an order issued prior to a hearing being held with the respondent), including provisions prohibiting the respondent from physically abusing, threatening, or having contact with the party protected by the order. A protective order may also include any additional provisions that the court determines are necessary to protect the petitioner. The order may set temporary child custody and visitation terms, as well as require either or both the respondent and the person protected by the order to participate in domestic violence intervention services.

(Haw. Rev. Stat. § § 586-3, 586-4, 586-5.5)

Violation of a Domestic Abuse Protective Order

A person who intentionally violates a protective order is guilty of a misdemeanor and must participate in a domestic violence intervention program. If the defendant violates the protective order in a violent manner, the defendant must serve a minimum of 48 hours in jail and may be fined of up to $500. For a second conviction for violating the same protective order in a violent manner, the defendant must serve a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail and pay up to $1,000 fine.

A person who violates the terms of a domestic violence protective order that was issued by another state commits a misdemeanor and must serve a minimum of 48 hours in jail and pay a fine of up to $500.

(Haw. Rev. Stat. § § 586-11, 586-26)

Consult an Attorney

If you are accused of committing an act of domestic abuse in Hawaii, you should consult with an experienced attorney. Whether you have been charged with a crime or accused of domestic abuse in a petition for a protective order, a skilled attorney is essential to protecting your rights. Criminal charges can result in incarceration and fines, and a protective order can limit your rights as a parent. A lawyer will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of domestic abuse accusations while providing critical guidance and advice throughout the process.

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