Georgia Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a fairly broad legal term used to describe specific kinds of criminal acts that occur between certain types of family members, including spouses, parents and their children, co-parents, and people living in the same household. Most people think of domestic violence as abuse occurring between people who are married, but you do not have to be married to someone to be accused of committing domestic violence. If you have been arrested for domestic violence in Georgia, your future is on the line and time is of the essence. Contact a reputable Georgia domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible to learn about your rights and how best to protect them. Domestic violence cases can be emotionally charged and legally complex, but with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in your corner, you can significantly improve your chances of getting a favorable outcome in your case.
Georgia Domestic Violence Laws
Each state has its own domestic violence laws that lay out the definition of domestic violence and the criminal penalties associated with a conviction for such a crime. In Georgia, domestic violence, also known as “family violence” is defined by Georgia Code § 19-13-1 as “(1) any felony; or (2) Commission of offenses of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass” involving “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.” The following are some common types of abuse between family or household members that may constitute the crime of domestic violence:
- Physical abuse – Hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, biting, pushing, choking, hair pulling, or using weapons or threatening to use weapons to hurt the other person.
- Sexual abuse – Any forced sexual contact, whether the contact is carried out by the use of physical force, threats or coercion.
- Psychological abuse – Threatening the other person, attempting to make him or her feel inferior, controlling how he or she spends time with friends or family members, or threatening to harm or take away his or her children.
Under Georgia law, the term “family violence” specifically does not include “reasonable discipline administered by a parent to a child in the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention.”
Georgia Penalties for Domestic Violence Crimes
Law enforcement officials and prosecutors in Georgia take acts of domestic violence extremely seriously and crimes involving spousal abuse or family violence are punished more harshly than crimes involving people who have no intimate or domestic relationship. For instance, the crime of simple assault under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-20 is typically charged as a misdemeanor offense. However, the crime of simple assault, when “committed 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 excluding siblings living or formerly living in the same household,” is elevated to a misdemeanor offense of a high and aggravated nature. Both offenses carry a term of imprisonment of up to 12 months, but the fine for a high and aggravated misdemeanor carries a higher fine.
In addition to facing jail time and considerable fines, there are a number of other domestic violence consequences that can adversely affect your life and livelihood long after your sentence is complete. For instance, you may find that having a misdemeanor or felony offense on your criminal record adversely affects your ability to obtain certain types of employment or qualify for housing. It could also result in your professional licensing being revoked in some cases. Furthermore, a conviction for a domestic violence-related crime may be considered by the court during future child custody determinations, which means you could end up losing your custody rights and being ordered to pay child support to your spouse. If the alleged domestic violence victim petitions the court for a protective order that includes minor children, you could be ordered to stay away from the petitioner and your children, and if you violate the terms of the order, you could face additional penalties for a misdemeanor offense.
Defense Against Domestic Violence Charges
Being charged with committing an act of violence against a family member can be an extremely difficult situation to navigate, and the outcome of your criminal case can vary a great deal depending on the quality of your legal representation. You may assume that you are facing an open-and-shut case, especially if you are innocent of the charges, but it takes the expertise of a domestic violence defense attorney to successfully challenge the prosecution’s story and show that you are innocent of the crime. Keep in mind that in any criminal case, it is up to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime, and if your attorney can counter with a defense strategy that raises a reasonable doubt in the minds of the judge or jury, you cannot be convicted of the crime of domestic violence. The following are some possible defense strategies a good defense attorney may use in your domestic violence case:
- Self-defense or defense of others
- False allegations of violence
- Mistaken identity/alibi
- Accidental injury
- Illegal search and seizure
- Insufficient evidence
Contact an Experienced Georgia Defense Attorney Today
Georgia domestic violence cases can arise out of even the most minor domestic incidents. As a matter of fact, you can be arrested and charged with domestic violence in Georgia even if the alleged victim does not have any visible injuries. And once you have been accused of domestic violence and the police have submitted the case to the prosecutor, the accuser does not have the power to “drop” the charges against you. At this point, the decision whether or not to move forward with prosecution of the domestic violence case is up to the prosecutor alone. If you are facing criminal charges for domestic violence or family violence in Georgia, it is in your best interest to retain the services of a skilled, competent defense attorney who specializes in domestic violence cases. An experienced Georgia domestic violence defense lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case and seek to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.