Facing Domestic Violence Charges In Georgia? Here’s What You Need to Know
If you are facing charges of domestic violence in Georgia, you have rights and options. Learn everything you need to know here.
The Basics of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a serious case everywhere, and one that is never taken lightly, particularly in the state of Georgia. Domestic violence is usually committed by a family member, spouse, household member, or intimate partner against another. Under the legal definition of domestic violence, the other person must have some type of close relationship with the perpetrator.
In Georgia, domestic violence transcends beatings and physical harm; anything involving stalking, aggravated assault (with fists or a dangerous weapon), battery, child endangerment, criminal damages to properties, corporal punishment, domestic battery (simple and aggravated), criminal trespass, attempted murder, or unlawful restraint can lead to a domestic violence conviction in Georgia.
In addition, a pattern of abusive behavior where one individual uses different tactics to gain control over their intimate partner or a household member can also be considered domestic violence. These tactics can include physical violence, as well as sexual assault, emotional abuse, and isolation.
Domestic abuse is a broad term, and offenders can be charged and punished in different ways depending on the nature of the relationship between the alleged victim and the offender, the accused’s criminal history and prior convictions, as well as the circumstances of each individual case.
In addition, a domestic assault is usually punished more severely than a simple assault committed between strangers. Although the first conviction for both of these crimes is a misdemeanor conviction, a second conviction for family violence battery is a felony. Also, simple assault involving family violence can be charged as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, and punished accordingly.
Factors Involved in Charging Someone with Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can be charged as either a state or federal crime. Depending on the circumstances, these charges can result in either a misdemeanor conviction or a felony conviction. Check out this website to read about the United States federal law regarding domestic violence.
Family violence and domestic abuse charges are taken very seriously in Georgia, and the crimes attract more punishment than usual if the people involved have a prior or ongoing personal relationship.
An individual is charged with domestic violence if a violent felony offense or misdemeanor offense is committed toward someone with whom they share any of the following relationships:
- Current spouse
- Former spouse
- Children and stepchildren and foster children
- Housemates (people who live or formerly lived together)
- Family or household member
- Parents and step-parents, and foster parents
- Current or former intimate partners
- Couples who are unmarried but have a child.
So if the police have probable cause to believe that one person committed a crime against another member of their household, they have to make an arrest. The offender can’t bail out until he or she gets in front of the judge.
Bail conditions in domestic abuse cases usually include having no contact with the victim or leaving the victim’s household. Also, in stalking and aggravated stalking cases, the victim may be notified of the defendant’s release from custody.
Consult a Reputable Criminal Defense Attorney for Quality Representation
Because domestic violence is seen as a criminal offense, the charges automatically become the state’s problem, not a personal or private issue. The physical and mental stress involved in these charges is intense; therefore, you would need the help of reliable legal defense services and an excellent criminal defense attorney to help you get through the case and avoid the consequences of a criminal conviction.
When a family violence charge is issued, law enforcement may arrest the suspected abuser. If the case involves imminent serious bodily injury to the victim, the court may issue protective orders to grant the victims safety.
In order to ensure the protection of the domestic abuse victims, the court may issue a temporary protection order which would restrain certain actions of the abuser. The order can also determine temporary measures to protect a victim from further acts of violence, as well as instruct the abuser to finish training courses focused on changing his or her violent behavior. Georgia state law also allows the judges to include firearm restrictions when granting protective orders.
A protective order may also include other actions such as ordering the offender to refrain from contacting the victim, evict the offender from the household, award temporary custody of a minor child or children to the abuse victim, and order appropriate psychiatric or psychological services.
A person who violates a domestic violence restraining order can be charged criminally or punished by being held in contempt of court. Violating a restraining order is a misdemeanor crime that can result in up to 12 months of jail time and a $1,000 fine. Police officers can make arrests based just on probable cause that the abuser violated a family violence protective order.
In addition to helping you avoid serious domestic violence convictions, a criminal defense attorney can also help you dispute any unjust protective orders that have been issued against you.
Types of Abuses That Can Warrant Domestic Violence Criminal Charges
Domestic violence criminal charges can be issued based on several cases of abuse. Below are the types of abuses that will warrant a domestic violence charge:
Emotional/Psychological Abuse: This is when the abuser makes the victim feel worthless and small. It involves mocking the victim’s potentials, constant name-calling, condescending remarks, and harsh negative criticism. This also includes instances when the abuser intimidates and overshadows the victim using fear, humiliation, verbal harassment, or threats to physically harm the victim through physical injury or deadly force. Cyberstalking is a rare example of psychological abuse.
Physical Abuse: This involves any violent behavior towards the victim that eventually leads to serious bodily injury. This type of abuse usually attracts higher penalties because the presence of a visible injury bolsters the case. This case also involves the abuser forcing the victim to consume illegal substances or denying them necessary medical attention. More obvious forms of physical abuse include domestic battery, physical force, corporal injury, use of a deadly weapon, attempts to stop the victim’s breathing, or any other use of violence that leads to significant injury to the victim. More serious domestic assault charges include aggravated assault and battery which occurs when an individual maliciously causes bodily injury or harm to another which can result in broken bones, serious sprains and swelling, hearing loss, or other types of severe disfigurement.
Economic/Financial Abuse: This is when the abuser uses financial means to intimidate the victim by making the victim completely reliant on. The victims have no access to financial resources of their own. Elder abuse, which involves taking advantage of a senior citizen, is a common form of this type of domestic abuse. Financial abuse can also be inflicted on the defendant’s child or spouse.
Sexual Abuse: This is when the abuser performs sexual acts on the victim without positive consent. This also takes place when the abuser constantly sexually demeans the victim. This form of abuse may or may not involve bodily injury to the victim.
Stalking and aggravated stalking are also types of domestic abuse crimes. For instance, a person commits these crimes by deliberately contacting another person from the same household to harass or intimidate them.
If you have been charged with any of the above criminal offenses, you should not attempt to fight your charges alone. Instead of turning to an overworked public defender or simply pleading guilty, you need a top-rated criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights, freedom, and future from the consequences of a domestic violence conviction.
How Long Do You Go To Jail For Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence cases often carry heavy penalties, and they almost always attract a jail or prison sentence, especially if you have a previous conviction. Below are some of the possible jail sentences for domestic violence.
- First offense domestic battery: Abusers can spend up to one year in the county jail.
- Subsequent battery convictions: Abusers can spend up to five years in state prison if they have prior convictions.
- Assault: Abusers can spend up to one year in the county jail for an assault-related domestic violence conviction.
- Aggravated assaults: Abusers can spend up to 20 years in prison if they have a prior conviction. Also, the fine paid is way more.
- Violating a protective order: Abusers can spend up to one year in county jail if they violate the terms of their protective order, regardless of whether they have been convicted of domestic violence.
Other Potential Penalties for Domestic Violence Offenses
Some other penalties aside from jail time can stem from a protective order, and they are:
- Substantial fines, including payment of victim restitution.
- A permanent criminal record (which is detrimental).
- Mandatory anger management classes.
- Loss of child custody (and child custody rights).
- Loss of concealed carry rights.
- Deportation, barred entry into the United States, and other immigration consequences.
- Domestic violence protective/restraining order.
How To Get Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed
Once a domestic violence charge is filed, it can’t be dismissed or dropped by the accuser or the defendant. It is no longer in either party’s hands; it becomes the state’s case and will be seen till the very end. In the state’s eyes, domestic dispute cases are too delicate to be dismissed lightly because human life and safety are at stake.
If an alleged victim makes any attempt to drop the case, some prosecutors might see that as a suspicious move and consider extra charges against the alleged victim. So, whether either party cooperates or not, the case will proceed and may even go to a jury trial in extreme cases.
Even if the alleged victim claims that the charges were made on false accusations, the case remains the same. Prosecutors will always assume that the person was coerced into changing the story by the alleged abuser.
Ultimately, once charges are filed, the outcome of a domestic violence case lies in the hands of the prosecutor, the judge, and, if applicable, the jury. This is why retaining a skilled criminal defense attorney is so vital after a domestic violence arrest.
With an experienced lawyer on your side who knows how to negotiate with judges and prosecutors, you stand a fighting chance against the charges brought against you.
How To Beat a Domestic Violence Charge
To beat a domestic violence charge, you have to know about the law. Georgia has self-defense laws, and this is usually the best defense an accused individual has. If the accused individual can prove that he/she acted in self-defense, then there is a possibility that the case can be beaten.
If the falsely accused has access to an audio or video recording showing the buildup that led to the violence, there is a higher chance of beating the case.
Another essential factor that influences beating a domestic violence case is the efficiency and capability of your legal defenses. You have to pick an experienced lawyer with whom you can build a strong attorney-client relationship.
An efficient attorney with extensive experience and knowledge in domestic violence cases will guide you through the process and educate you thoroughly on your rights. When you have an excellent attorney coupled with a substantial self-defense plea, your chances of winning the case are good.
Hiring an Attorney for Domestic Violence Charges in Georgia
When a domestic violence charge is issued, the alleged abuser is the person that needs a defense lawyer the most. In Georgia, there are so many legal options to choose from. You need to take your time and select the best firm you can find. To do so, it’s best to schedule a consultation; this will give you an insight of the firm’s efficiency and whether they can adequately assist you.
You must hire an experienced attorney that can take an innovative approach to your case and draft up legal strategies that are properly suited for your criminal cases. If you need help navigating a domestic violence criminal case or have questions concerning domestic charges, contact a professional today.