Georgia defines family violence as any felony or battery, simple battery, assault, aggravated assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, or criminal trespass (damage less than $500) that takes place between members of the same household or formerly of the same household. This includes parents of the same child, past or present spouses, foster parents, parents, and children.
Facing a domestic violence charge is a strenuous experience, where someone must worry about the potential of a conviction and the many potential social and financial consequences that could follow them.
Therefore, a Georgia domestic violence attorney will be essential if you are facing charges, as they can work hard to develop a course of action that will help you receive a desirable outcome. An experienced attorney will have handled many domestic violence cases and will be able to give you the best possible defense for your case. With this level of experience, you can be confident in knowing there is a defense lawyer who can point you in the right direction.
Domestic Violence Laws
Under Georgia law, domestic violence includes a variety of criminal activity including battery, simple battery, assault, simple assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, and criminal trespassing. Violence between family members is the primary aspect of domestic violence and includes aggressive behavior towards current and former spouses and parents and their children.
A person arrested for domestic violence will typically have to spend the night of their arrest in jail. Someone cannot be bailed out until they have appeared before a judge, which usually means they will be in jail for at least 24 hours. A first-time conviction for domestic violence is punishable as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, and that person could potentially pay a fine of up to $5,000 and spend a maximum of 12 months in jail. Each additional conviction for domestic violence will be punished as a felony and could result in a maximum jail sentence of up to five years making it imperative that a domestic violence attorney in Georgia is consulted immediately.
Long Term Consequences
While paying fines and facing jail time are the typical consequences of domestic violence convictions, there are other sanctions that can be handed out that will negatively affect the quality of a person’s life. One of the first things that can happen to a person charged with domestic violence is that they can be issued a protective order mandating they stay away from the other party and have no contact with that person. Within 30 days of filing a domestic violence suit, a hearing will take place to discuss the allegations, and a judge may decide that a Family Violence Protection Order is necessary to keep the prosecution safe.
Further, if a convicted person is caught with a firearm, they could face up to 10 years in jail and find it difficult to gain employment once they are released. Visitation limitations are also frequently mandated to those who have committed domestic violence. A judge can reduce and set conditions on a person’s visitation rights including supervised visits or the completion of a family violence intervention program with the help of a domestic violence defense lawyer in Georgia. All of these sanctions can be implemented by a judge and can drastically affect the quality of a person’s day-to-day life.
A court can grant a protective order based upon the filing of a party. The order may direct a person to refrain from acts of violence, grant a party possession of a household, exclude a party from the household, require a party to provide suitable alternative housing, award temporary custody of children and establish visitation schedules, order a party to make payments for a minor, provide for spousal support, provide possession of personal items, award costs and attorney fees, order the person against whom the restraining order was taken to get psychiatric and other types of counseling.
These orders typically last a year but can be extended to three years or even become permanent. They can force a person to stay away from that party, move out of their shared house, or provide the other party with a place to live during that time. While a protective order can certainly limit a person’s choices, their right to bear arms is also in jeopardy if convicted of domestic violence. Federal law prohibits a person from possessing firearms or ammunition if a person has been convicted of domestic violence or is subject to certain protection orders.
Ex Parte Relief
A person who seeks relief files a petition with the Superior Court in their jurisdiction alleging one or more acts of family violence. If this petition establishes probable cause that family violence has occurred in the past and may occur in the future, the Court can order temporary ex parte relief. This happens without the need for any hearing. Once a Judge signs this order, the other party must be served and abide by the order.
However, within 10 days and no longer than 30 days, a hearing must take place where the person who filed the petition must present their case to a judge to determine if the allegations are true. They do not need to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Simply, they need to show that the allegations are more likely than not, true.
Working With An Attorney
If a person has been charged with domestic violence, it is important that they understand all the consequences that can come along with a conviction. These charges should be taken seriously and require the help of a knowledgeable attorney who will not be intimidated by the prosecution or the situation at hand.
If you have been charged with domestic violence and need guidance, you should contact a Georgia domestic violence lawyer who can provide you with a clear defense strategy and will be able to produce an advantageous outcome.