Domestic violence accusations can be emotionally difficult and a painful legal process for someone to encounter. Besides the strain on relationships and families, there are serious criminal penalties that are possible, and court-imposed protective orders that can be a crushing burden on your quality of life and freedom of movement.

If you are facing  family violence battery charges, you should contact a Fulton County domestic violence lawyer as early in the process as possible to help protect your rights. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal system and ensure you know what to expect at each step of the process.

Defining the Charge

Georgia law defines domestic violence, or family violence, as an act of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass, committed in the family context.

A victim of domestic violence may petition the court for an immediate and temporary restraining order against an individual they have accused of domestic violence, and the party must prove by a preponderance of the evidence the truth of the allegations at a hearing held within 30 days of petitioning the court for relief.

The court may then grant a full protective order which could, for example, direct a party to stay away from the home, pay for alternate housing for a spouse or child, award temporary custody of minor children and visitation, order spousal or child support, or order a party to psychiatric treatment. Violation of a protective order is a felony.

Aggravating Factors

An important point to realize about family violence, and a clear reason why someone needs a Fulton County domestic violence attorney to assist them, is that committing an act of violence or assault in the family context heightens the penalties an individual would otherwise face for a charge.

For example, simple assault is a misdemeanor in Georgia. When a simple assault is committed against a spouse, former spouse, or their children, it is an aggravated misdemeanor with higher penalties.

Likewise, aggravated assault against a spouse, former spouse, or their children is punishable by imprisonment from three to 20 years, a steeper charge than aggravated assault outside of the family. An experienced Fulton County domestic violence lawyer can assist an individual in lessening any potential penalties associated with the family violence battery charge.

Proving Violence

The prosecution needs to prove the act of either battery or assault and the fact that the people were spouses in the same household. If they can do that, then they will prove their case. Generally, the prosecutor will have to put the alleged victim on the stand. Otherwise, the whole case would be hearsay, because most family violence cases do not take place in areas where other people are watching.

They will put the alleged victim on the stand so they get a chance to cross-examine them and perhaps argue that they were simply defending themselves. The lawyer may show that they are making the whole thing up, it will all depend on an individual case.

After a Protective Order is Issued

It is clear that a protective order can have life-altering consequences for the parties involved, and an individual facing domestic violence allegations must seriously consider enlisting a Fulton County domestic violence attorney to assist in fighting against a protective order.

Georgia also mandates a family violence intervention program to counsel and educate those charged with domestic violence crimes.

A court must order a defendant to participate in the family violence intervention program in addition to any penalty or protective order it issues, or state on the record why the program is not required. Often, a lawyer can convince individuals not to bring the charges or to close the case with a better result, like getting the client into a diversion program to get the case dismissed. That is generally what a lawyer will want to be able to do. If a lawyer can get the case in potential diversion to get the case dismissed, that is something that would be very helpful.

Working with an Attorney

There are a number of different things to do to build a defense and to gather evidence to refuse a domestic violence allegation, including recanting the statement and talking to the officer. If a person will change their story, an attorney can cross-examine their protective order hearing. They can have them write an affidavit to contradict what they said. They need to get their client to explain what happened. It is the best way to deal with one of these cases. In these stories, there are always two sides to every story and the cops often only hear one.

Domestic violence lawyers will see if there are past e-mails or texts where the parties talk before or after the incident to show that the person was making this thing up. Electronic evidence is a big deal in these cases. Often, Fulton County domestic violence lawyers can be able to get some electronic evidence that can contradict a story.

Family violence battery charges and the resulting protective orders issued by a court can have serious consequences, including jail time, child support payments, the loss of child custody, or excluding you from your own home. Before your life is turned upside down, contact a Fulton County domestic violence lawyer today to review your case and go over your options.