Domestic Violence Georgia: Know Your Rights and Options
Overview of Georgia’s Domestic Violence Laws
According to statistics from the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, in the Fiscal Year 2019, there were 66,151 crisis calls to certified domestic violence agencies in Georgia.
Unfortunately, family violence is a prevalent problem in Georgia and other areas across the country. Domestic violence is often committed against a family or household member and takes various forms, including physical abuse, sexual assault, emotional abuse, intimidation, stalking, and unlawful imprisonment.
Domestic violence allegations are serious and can cause devastating, long-lasting consequences to the accused’s reputation, quality of life, liberty, and personal and professional opportunities.
A defendant convicted of domestic assault could be facing possible jail time, huge fines, a restraining order, loss of parenting privileges, and other life-changing ramifications. On the other hand, being subjected to domestic violence can have devastating consequences on one’s mental, physical, and financial well-being.
At The Waltman Firm, we are dedicated to offering experienced legal guidance and comprehensive representation in family violence cases. Attorney Holly Waltman of The Waltman Firm has devoted her career to providing reliable and compassionate legal counsel and advocacy to victims of family violence and clients facing domestic violence charges.
Whether you are experiencing family violence or have been wrongly accused of domestic violence, attorney Holly and her team will fight vigorously to protect your rights and offer you the comprehensive legal representation you need.
Definition of Domestic Violence in Georgia
Under Georgia domestic violence laws, family violence can be described as abuse between family members, household members, or unmarried partners. It involves committing any of the following offenses against an intimate partner or family member:
- Simple battery
- Simple assault
- Criminal damage to personal property
- Unlawful restraint
- Criminal trespass, or
- Any felony offense
In this situation, the intimate partner or family member may be any of the following persons or relationships:
- Former or current spouses
- Parents and children
- Stepparents and stepchildren
- People who are parents of the same child
- Foster parents and foster children
- People who are living or once lived in the same household
When law enforcement officers are notified of a possible family violence situation, they may arrest the individual(s) who they believe to have been the primary abuser. From there, the local court will decide whether any protective orders are necessary for the victim’s safety. Usually, this will be an emergency protective order until further legal action is taken.
Under Georgia divorce laws, family violence can be an important factor in child custody cases. Georgia judges consider the best interests of the minor children. They will give greater weight to evidence that the children witnessed or were otherwise exposed to acts of domestic violence.
If you are involved in child custody litigation, you must speak to a Georgia family law attorney immediately after an arrest. Evidence of domestic violence can affect custody cases in Georgia courts, so it is critical not to wait until after the legal process has concluded.
Georgia Domestic Violence Laws
Under Georgia Code section 19-13-1, also known as the Family Violence Act, “Family violence” involves the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents, and children, stepparents, and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household:
- Any felony; or
- Commission of offenses of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass.
However, the term “family violence” shall not be deemed to include reasonable discipline administered by a parent to a child in the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, additional Georgia laws may apply. Contact an Atlanta domestic violence lawyer for more information.
Domestic Violence Statistics Georgia
Here are some statistics about family violence in the state of Georgia:
- About 35.1% of Georgia women and 39.9% of Georgia men experience intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking during their lifetime.
- In 2018, law enforcement agencies reported responding to 44,900 family violence incidents in Georgia.
- In 2018, approximately 26,672 stalking and protective orders were issued by Georgia courts.
- In Fiscal Year 2019, there were 66,151 crisis calls to certified domestic violence agencies in Georgia.
- In 2019, Georgia ranked 10th in the United States for men killing women.
- In 2019, there were about 166 family violence-related deaths in Georgia.
- In 2019, about 73% of deaths involving family violence involved firearms.
- In Fiscal Year 2019, GA domestic violence shelters provided refuge to over 5,024 victims of family violence.
Family violence is a complex area of Georgia law. Many victims never seek help in fear of their safety, while other family violence situations involve false accusations on both sides, and the legal definition of family violence has many grey areas.
No matter your situation, retaining an attorney with the skills, resources, and experience to navigate these legal issues is essential.
What to Do If You Experience Family Violence Georgia
When it comes to violating Family Violence Act in Georgia, the consequences can be severe. These acts are taken seriously by the prosecution. Although the law is designed to protect people living in the same household, sometimes victims do not qualify under this law. In that case, victims can seek protection under Georgia stalking laws.
Punishment for a family violence act can be harsh, depending on the previous offenses of the accused and whether they have any other charges pending against them. It’s crucial to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you are experiencing family violence, so they can help you throughout this difficult process.
Domestic Violence Help in Georgia
If your partner is abusing you, it is important to get help immediately. You can call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or Georgia’s 24-Hour Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-334-2836.
Once you are in a safe location, you may want to pursue a family violence protective order against the aggressor. Before doing so, however, it’s a good idea to reach out to an attorney to understand your legal options better.
The Waltman Firm is proud to serve individuals who need a knowledgeable domestic violence attorney in Marietta, GA, or North Atlanta. Attorney Holly Waltman will review and investigate every detail of your case and strategize an effective strategy for your situation. We will fight diligently to protect your rights, help you acquire a protective order, and/or represent you in any applicable legal proceedings.
What to Do If You’re Facing Domestic Violence Charges in Georgia
In Georgia, acts involving family violence and intimate partner violence are punished severely compared to similar acts against other persons. For instance, a person who commits domestic violence battery for the first time may be facing misdemeanor charges. Any subsequent conviction will be charged as a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
For those reasons and more, you must consult a reputable criminal defense attorney if you have been accused of committing family violence in Georgia. When you reach out to The Waltman Firm, we will work tirelessly to dispute the allegations against you with overwhelming evidence so you can begin moving forward.
Domestic Violence Georgia Punishment
The possible penalties and consequences of a family violence conviction in Georgia include:
Up to 12 months in jail (misdemeanor) or up to five (5) years in prison (felony).
Maximum fines of $1,000 (misdemeanor) or $5,000 (felony) and payment of restitution to the victim.
Participation in a “Diversion Program”
This is available for defendants accused of misdemeanor family violence crimes. It requires the defendant to complete a drug and alcohol program, domestic violence treatment programs, and to perform community service.
Mandatory Participation in Anger Management Classes
The Georgia courts require an accused person to enroll in and complete anger management classes as a condition of probation. Failure to do so can result in the probationary license being revoked.
Loss of Firearms or Concealed Carry Rights
Georgia law prohibits a person convicted of family violence from buying or having a gun. Georgia requires those accused of committing domestic violence to surrender their firearms.
Loss of Parental Rights
If you are currently the primary custodial parent of your children, you may be required to pay child support to the other parent if you are convicted. This means that you will also lose any child support payments from the other parent.
A Domestic Violence Restraining or Protective Order
The Georgia courts may require the accused person to complete a pre-trial diversion program or counseling as part of any protective order that is issued.
Possible Immigration Consequences
If you are not a citizen of the United States, Georgia law provides for deportation if you have been convicted of any misdemeanor crime involving violence against another person.
A Permanent Criminal Record
If you are convicted of a Georgia domestic violence crime, you will have a permanent criminal record. This can impact your ability to find employment and may have other consequences as well.
Experienced Domestic Violence Attorney Serving Marietta, Georgia
If you are experiencing family violence or facing family violence charges, don’t face it alone. Contact The Waltman Firm today to schedule a free, one-on-one case evaluation.
Attorney Holly Waltman can provide you with the comprehensive legal counsel, strong advocacy, and compassionate representation you need. Our firm proudly serves clients throughout Marietta, Georgia, and North Atlanta.
Call today to consult with a knowledgeable Georgia criminal defense attorney and receive detailed guidance and reliable representation.