By: Larry Kohn, Domestic Violence Lawyer Atlanta
Because domestic violence laws are written into the penal code by the legislature of each state, a domestic violence definition cannot be universally stated. However, certain common components of these many state statutes from various jurisdictions are universal. A domestic violence lawyer in Georgia knows how tough 12 months in jail can be if imposed upon an offending spouse or domestic partner.
For criminalizing a domestic battery charge, all states have set up both felony or misdemeanor crimes to escalate criminal law consequences for REPEAT offenders. Plus, for crimes causing bodily injury like battery domestic violence, assault or aggravated assault that injures, maims, or kills another, the necessity of retaining a domestic violence lawyer near me becomes crystal clear.
For many people experiencing domestic violence charges in the state of Georgia, this is their first time being put in cuffs by a police officer or going to jail. Since J. Edgar Hoover ran the FBI, federal law requires that all arrested persons be fingerprinted and a mug shot taken. The “history” of this happening will be available to law enforcement and prosecutors permanently. This criminal history of an arrest allows access to the charging document (an accusation or an indictment by a grand jury), as well as how that arrest was “resolved” and when that event occurred.
Like most crimes, repeat offenders are treated more harshly than a person facing a first offense, for example, the crime of family violence battery under O.C.G.A. 16-5-23.1. That 1st offense is a simple misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum jail penalty of up to 12 months, plus a $1,000 fine. A person’s 2nd (or subsequent) conviction involving the same victim or involving another family member will result in a felony offense that carries up to a maximum penalty of five (5) years in state prison.
Charged With Domestic Violence Georgia and Hiring a Domestic Abuse Attorney
Recently enacted Georgia domestic violence laws (in 2010, 2015, and 2016) define family violence as being certain types of criminal acts between people occupying a household together, which usually occurs with one or more domestic partners who are family members. The possible penalties for crimes within that residence (or between those who formerly cohabited) are written in a way to punish more harshly than if two strangers got into a fistfight or public verbal altercation.
While criminal defense is the central focus of the domestic violence law firm representing you, family law issues are also prominent in these cases (e.g., separation, divorce, etc.) When a judge feels that he or she must do something to “send a message,” he or she may sentence violent offenders to a year in jail.
Georgia Family Violence Act – An Overview of the Broad Sweep of These Laws
Georgia family violence law has provisions for a procedure for victims of domestic violence to obtain a judge’s protective order against alleged abusers who are current or former family members, or from former domestic relationships. This group includes persons who are parents of the same child, foster parents, stepparents, and persons currently or formerly living in the same household.
Significantly, the Georgia Legislature placed mandatory arrest responsibility when a law enforcement officer investigating claims of family violence acts is told or investigates and finds out about certain facts creating probable cause to believe that the law has been violated. Plus, a permanent State Commission on Family Violence, with 37 members from all disciplines, was put in place to oversee family violence issues and suggest legislative changes in the future.
The deciding factor between garden-variety assault (which laws are applicable to ALL people) and domestic violence are the identities and relationships (present or past) of the people getting in the fight. This maxim applies to assault, simple assault, battery, simple battery, aggravated assault, stalking, or aggravated battery.
The same criminal conduct has taken place, but when the folks involved have a current or former DOMESTIC relationship, Georgia laws ramp up punishment and call for a quick arrest of the perceived perpetrator to diffuse the potential deadly escalation. So, when a domestic violence crime is involved, new legal protections from a judge like a “no contact” order or restraining order can quickly be obtained.
Most of the following types of actions can support an accusation, arrest, or indictment of a person being represented by a domestic abuse lawyer:
(O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1)
- financial abuse
- simple battery
- simple assault
- sexual abuse
- physical abuse
- criminal trespass into a former intimate partner’s living quarters
- criminal damage to property
- unlawful restraint
- any felony crime committed between such persons
- use of controlling behavior as evidenced by power and control over the wife, husband, or domestic partner (e.g., battery, simple assault) and particularly if children are used as a pawn or to gain leverage by the wrongdoer to compel the other domestic partner to yield to force or intimidation.
In some states, like Georgia, the mere presence of a child within the same home or abode as the adult who is verbally abusing and threatening can lead to an arrest.
The starting point for family domestic violence is to think broadly in terms of the scope of legislation proscribing domestic abuse, assault family violence, or (in some states, like Georgia) exposing a child to a domestic argument. Examples of this broad thinking include the fact that physical abuse or touching of another (like slapping, punching, grabbing) is not a requirement for a suspect to be arrested and charged with domestic violence abuse.
Plus, “family” is defined very loosely so that the persons living together need not be married or even currently living in the same household. Because domestic relationships and partnerships are far more common today than in 1950, the State is not expecting forced marriages to take place for any victims to be able to receive protection from our Georgia laws on domestic violence. Thus, people living or formerly living together qualify for family violence protection under the GA Family Violence Act. Common sense and the need to protect children are typical reasons to leave the relationship when safety concerns call for a departure.
Assault is placing someone in fear of apprehension or bodily harm. A person does not have to have physical contact. Simple assault can be an exchange of words that (to a reasonable person) would communicate a belief that an injury is about to occur. Domestic violence is the same conduct as an assault, but the family-related crime is between members of the same household.
For example, a person could have an argument with their girlfriend. If they do not live together, it may not be a big deal. However, if they lived together at one time, it is a bigger deal according to the justice system. The key to what determines domestic violence is the word domestic. Those involved must be people in the same household.
Larry Kohn, Domestic Violence Lawyer Atlanta, Discusses Defense Strategy
Partner Larry Kohn, with over 20 years of experience in these cases, has this to say about his approach to domestic abuse and violence: “The defense strategy used by domestic abuse attorneys generally does not differ whether our client is charged with just assault or a family violence battery charge. The main difference for doing damage control for our client is to assess and evaluate who the witnesses are, which judge will be presiding, and establishing our defense. The strategy is similar, but the facts are always unique to each case.”
Usually, when people are related to or know one another very well, as in a domestic violence case, some definable instance or “breaking point” created the violent event or harsh words. Often, alcohol is involved.
Some problem, like simmering resentment, is underlying the whole violent exchange. For stranger-on-stranger conduct, usually, the event occurred in reaction to something happening or drunken stupidity.
FREE Consultation With a Domestic Violence Attorney Near Me
For a FREE lawyer consultation, dial our law office NOW: 404-567-5515. Our law firm TRAVELS statewide to represent accused citizens facing family violence charges. Our partners are 24-hour lawyers,when you need our legal advice and assistance. In addition to Mr. Kohn, ex-cop Cory Yager and veteran Georgia criminal defense attorney Bubba Head are here to assist you.
For other related, important Resources on various related topics for sexual abuse, identifying abusive behavior, and obtaining protective orders, see these links: