The State of Georgia takes any accusation of family violence extremely seriously. So much, in fact, that an entire chapter of the Georgia Code is dedicated to the protection of family members against domestic violence.
However, there is no crime listed as family violence in the criminal code. Rather, a defendant is charged with a different crime and the instance is marked as an allegation of family violence. This classification triggers a process by which an accuser can request a protective order that can seriously impact an accused person’s freedom to travel, custody of children, and housing situation.
A Cherokee County domestic violence lawyer can work to defend accused individuals against the underlying criminal charges and to oppose any protective orders that aim to permanently change a person’s home life. If you have been charged with family violence, speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney that can advocate for you.
The Family Violence Act
Georgia Code 19-13-1 begins a sequence of laws that outline how an act of family violence is defined and what steps the court will take to deal with these accusations.
An act of family violence is any felony that is committed against a family member. In addition, a number of misdemeanor crimes may also qualify under this statute including:
- Criminal damage to property
- Unlawful restraint
Who Counts As a Family Member?
The law also states that these acts must be committed against a family member. This is defined as:
- Past or present married people
- People who are the parents of shared children
- Parents and their children
- Stepparents and stepchildren
- Foster parents and foster children
- Or anyone currently or formerly living in the same household
If the accuser in any of these cases does not fit into one of these categories, the crime will not be considered family violence but will still be prosecuted in criminal court.
Under Georgia Code 19-13-3, any adult may file a petition seeking a protective order from their local superior court. This protective order may be issued temporarily to determine the custody of children, the permissible contact between the parties, where the parties may live, and many other considerations.
Within 30 days after a temporary order is granted, a full hearing must be held in order to determine if the order should be made permanent. Defendants have the absolute right to representation by a Cherokee County domestic violence lawyer at these hearings, but in no situation will a public defender be appointed.
Penalties for Violating a Court Order
On top of the potential penalties for the underlying criminal accusations, people who violate these protective orders also face severe consequences. Since the protective order is an official court order, a violation is considered contempt of court.
This is a misdemeanor-level offense that can result in a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a $1,000 fine. For this reason, it is extremely important to be aware of the court’s orders and to follow them to the letter. In addition, violating an order, depending upon how it is violated, could lead to aggravated stalking charges, a felony. A determined Cherokee County domestic violence lawyer can attempt to mitigate the charges that an individual may face.
Contact a Cherokee County Family Violence Attorney
Being accused of any crime can be a confusing and frightening thing. When the accusation is made by a family member, these effects can be magnified. Not only will a person face criminal prosecution, but the accuser may apply for a protective order that prevents contact, limits time with children, and even kicks the defendant out of their home.
A Cherokee County domestic violence lawyer is here to help. The attorney can work to defend individuals against both the criminal charges at the heart of the matter as well as to argue against any permanent protective orders that may arise.
These charges can affect both a person’s freedom as well as their future family relationships. Do not take any unnecessary chances, contact an experienced family violence attorney today.