Ohio Domestic Violence
Criminal charges for domestic violence can be leveled against you if you are accused of knowingly or recklessly causing physical harm or threatening to cause harm to a member of your family or household. A conviction for domestic violence can be either a misdemeanor or felony conviction and may include jail or prison time and substantial fines, in addition to other serious, long-lasting consequences. Even false allegations of abuse, however absurd they may seem, can ruin your reputation, cast doubt on your professional credibility and damage your relationships with friends and family. If you are facing charges for domestic violence in Ohio, do not leave the outcome of your case up to chance. Even if you are innocent of the crime, you need a reputable defense attorney in your corner who understands Ohio domestic violence laws and knows how to formulate a compelling defense to challenge the charges against you.
Ohio Domestic Violence Law
Domestic violence is a criminal offense that occurs when one person causes physical harm or threatens harm against a family or household member. In Ohio, a “family or household member” means a spouse, person living as a spouse, or former spouse of the offender; a parent, foster parent or child of the offender, or another person related by blood or affinity to the offender; a parent or child of a spouse, person living as a spouse, or former spouse of the offender, or another person related by blood of affinity to a spouse, person living as a spouse, or former spouse of the offender; or any person with whom the offender has a child. Ohio’s domestic violence laws are found under section 2919.25 of the Ohio Revised Code, which states as follows:
(A) No person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member.
(B) No person shall recklessly cause serious physical harm to a family or household member.
(C) No person, by threat of force, shall knowingly cause a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.
Ohio Domestic Violence Penalties
According to Ohio law, whoever violates Ohio Revised Code § 2919.25 by knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to a family or household member, or by knowingly causing a family or household member to fear imminent physical harm is guilty of domestic violence. Absent any aggravating factors, a violation of division (C) of this section as noted above is a fourth-degree misdemeanor in Ohio, punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail. A violation of division (A) or (B) of this section is a first-degree misdemeanor, a more serious crime carrying a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail. While most cases of Ohio domestic violence are classified as misdemeanors, there are certain circumstances that can elevate domestic violence to a felony offense, resulting in enhanced penalties.
If a person accused of committing an act of domestic violence has a prior criminal conviction for domestic violence, a new violation of division (A) or (B) of this section is a fourth-degree felony, punishable by a term of up to 36 months in prison. If the accused has two or more prior convictions for domestic violence, a new violation of division (A) or (B) of this section is a third-degree felony, punishable by a term of up to 60 months in prison. If the accused knew that the victim was pregnant at the time the act of domestic violence occurred, the court may impose a mandatory minimum prison term of at least six months.
Assaults on pregnant women are punished particularly harshly under Ohio domestic violence law. Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code § 2919.25(5), if a person accused of domestic violence knew that the alleged victim was pregnant at the time the act of domestic violence occurred, even for a first offense, a violation of division (A) or (B) of this section is considered a fifth-degree felony, punishable by a term of up to 12 months in prison, with a mandatory minimum of at least six months. A violation of division (C) of this section, if the accused knew that the alleged victim was pregnant at the time the act of domestic violence occurred, is a third-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a term of up to 60 days in jail. If the domestic violence caused serious physical harm to the alleged victim’s unborn child or caused the termination of the pregnancy, the penalties become significantly more severe.
Defense Against Ohio Domestic Violence Charges
Any time spouses, family members or people who live together are involved in a domestic dispute, things are bound to get complicated. Domestic violence is a serious, ongoing problem in Ohio and across the United States, and many states have expanded or strengthened their domestic violence laws recently to provide more robust protections for intimate partners and family and household members involved in abusive relationships. Unfortunately, there are also cases where innocent people are arrested for domestic violence based on false allegations of abuse, often as a result of contentious divorce or child custody proceedings. If you are arrested for domestic violence or accused of committing domestic violence in a protective order, things can move fairly quickly, and you don’t want to make a mistake that could end up hurting your case. Your best course of action is to hire an Ohio domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss the best course of action for your specific situation.
A Knowledgeable Ohio Domestic Violence Attorney Can Help
Law enforcement officials and prosecutors take acts of domestic violence extremely seriously in Ohio, and any time you are facing criminal charges for domestic violence, your freedom and your future are on the line. Whatever the circumstances surrounding the charges against you, it is in your best interest to retain the services of an Ohio criminal defense attorney with experience in domestic violence defense. A domestic violence conviction can throw your entire life off track, so don’t hesitate to secure qualified legal representation.