DV Penalties in Ohio: A Helpful Guide

James Dearie Attorney for Lebanon Ohio Domestic Violence charges Cincinnati Dayton

 

Article by attorney Jim Dearie.  July, 2019.


Domestic Violence Penalties in Ohio: Simplifying the answers

When a worried client comes to me with domestic violence (DV) charges, the first questions that are likely to pop up are "What penalties am I facing? Will I go to jail? Will I be allowed to see my kids? Will I lose my job?" These are legitimate concerns. I wish I could just hand clients a quick and simple answer to those questions. Unfortunately, however, domestic violence law is quite complex, and the penalties you may be facing for a conviction are unique to your particular case.

In this article, I will simplify the answers to some of these common questions, generally speaking. The answers are based on what I have seen most commonly in my practice of law over the last 25 years. There are still numerous factors not addressed in this article that may come into play during the course of any investigation and Court proceedings. I find that as a case proceeds, we often find many different pieces of evidence that can help our client's case and lead to a reduction in charges, or in some cases an outright dismissal.

There are two kinds of penalties that arise from a domestic violence conviction in Ohio.

  • Court-imposed Penalties

The first are Court imposed penalties which may come in the form of jail or prison time, probation, and/or fines. A DV offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

  • Collateral Consequences

The second kind of penalties are called "collateral consequences". These are additional consequences you may suffer as a result of your domestic violence charge: harm to your reputation, difficulty with your employment, restrictions on professional licenses, restrictions on gun ownership rights, child custody and shared parenting issues, having a permanent criminal record, to name a few. Many of these consequences will be imposed on you as soon as you are charged with domestic violence, and may be restored to you if charges are dismissed or reduced.

hWe hope this article help you understand the potential Court-imposed penalties for your domestic violence charge.

Misdemeanor DV vs. Felony DV charges in Ohio

In the Ohio criminal law code, crimes are categorized according to severity as misdemeanors (less serious crimes) and felonies (more serious crimes that carry the possibility of at least one year in prison).

There are five categories of misdemeanors : 1st degree misdemeanor (M1), 2nd degree misdemeanor (M2), 3rd degree misdemeanor (M3), fourth degree misdemeanor (M4) and minor misdemeanor (MM).

There are also five degrees of felony charges: 1st degree felony (F1), 2nd degree felony (F2), 3rd degree felony (F3), fourth degree felony (F4) and fifth degree felony (F5).

In each category, first degree is the most serious offense.

These factors are generally taken into account when determining whether the domestic violence offender will be charged with a misdemeanor or felony:

  1. whether the alleged offender has been convicted of domestic violence before

  2. whether the alleged offender knew that the victim was pregnant, and whether the victim's unborn was harmed

The following infographic simplifies Ohio Domestic Violence Code ORC 2919.25 and helps to make the penalties for the most common DV charges more understandable.

A helpful illustrated guide to DV penalties in Ohio from the lawyers of Dearie, Fischer and Mathews

A helpful illustrated guide to DV penalties in Ohio, by Dearie, Fischer & Mathews LLC

Understanding How Domestic Violence is Defined in Ohio

There are two basic categories of domestic violence offenses in Ohio law.

  1. A domestic violence offense where the offender threatens to cause an act of violence, knowingly causing a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm. These kinds of threats are generally charged as misdemeanors.

  2. A domestic violence offense where the offender knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical harm to a household or family member; or recklessly causes serious physical harm to a family or household member. This offense can be charged as a high-level misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the surrounding circumstances.

There are additional concerns and things you need to be aware of when you are charged with DV in Ohio. Please refer to "Charged with Domestic Violence in Ohio? Some things you need to know" . This article explains what to expect with pretrial detention,  temporary protection orders, and other things related to DV charges.

Is Domestic Violence a Misdemeanor in Ohio?

Misdemeanors are thought of as the "less serious crimes". They carry the potential of relatively minimal jail time and fines. The vast majority of first-time domestic violence offenses are charged as misdemeanors. However, there are instances when a first-time offender is charged with a felony (see more on that below).

First-time offenders are often charged with a first degree misdemeanor (M1), which carries a potential for $1,000 in fines and 180 days (6 months) in jail. Surrounding circumstances may make it possible to argue for a reduction in charge, fines, or jail time, or an outright dismissal of charges.

Less serious, domestic violence offenses are generally charged as lower-level misdemeanors when there was little to no physical harm done to the alleged victim. The offense of threatening physical harm is generally charged as follows:

  • 4th degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and $250 in fines.

  • 3rd degree misdemeanor if the offender knew the victim was pregnant, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and $500 in fines.

  • 2nd degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and $750 in fines, if prior domestic violence conviction.

  • 1st degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and $1,000 in fines, if two or more prior domestic violence convictions.

Is Domestic Violence a Felony in Ohio?

Domestic violence may be charged as a felony when:

- The alleged offender has one or more prior domestic violence convictions

- A serious injury is suffered by the alleged victim

- A firearm was used in the incident

- A pregnant woman or her unborn were harmed in the incident

Felony offenses are more serious than misdemeanor offenses. The potential fees are greater, and a felony conviction will likely land you a prison term of at least 6 months.

Can a felony domestic violence charge be reduced?

Surrounding circumstances may make it possible to argue for a reduction in charge, fines, or jail time, or an outright dismissal of charges.

The First Step is to argue your case in Court

How severe the collateral consequences are often depend on the Court's final ruling, and whether you can get your charges reduced or dismissed. If you are charged with DV in Ohio, call us right away to get a more clear picture of what you are facing and how our experienced attorneys can help you fight your specific individual charges in Court. Time spent on an initial phone call with us is complementary and can help you get many of your questions answered, including the best direction to go, moving forward with your case.

Our attorneys at Dearie, Fischer & Mathews have helped many clients obtain reduced charges or dismissals in felony domestic violence cases. Call us to discuss your particular situation.

Can a Domestic Violence Conviction Put Gun Ownership Rights in Jeopardy?

Domestic violence charges also carry an extra penalty for gun owners under federal law. Those convicted of domestic violence are barred from purchasing or owning a firearm. This can be true even for misdemeanor domestic violence convictions.

If you are a gun owner charged with domestic violence in Ohio, read out article, "Firearms Restrictions on Domestic Violence Charges in Ohio."

Studies have repeatedly shown that those with a history of domestic violence are more likely to commit violent and deadly crimes with a gun. This is why a conviction of domestic violence will carry an additional penalty regarding firearms, and why it can be more difficult to have your Second Amendment rights restored if you have such a conviction on your record.

Conclusion: Penalties for Domestic Violence, in a nutshell

Domestic Violence penalties are likely determined, based on the specific facts of the case, as follows (in order from less serious to more serious):

  • Low level Misdemeanor if offender threatened the victim with physical harm: generally charged as a lower-level misdemeanor. May be charged as a high-level misdemeanor offense (M1) if the offender has multiple prior DV convictions.

  • First Degree Misdemeanor if first-time offense, with an act or attempted act to cause harm to the victim: 1st degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and $1,000 in fines. Firearms restrictions for any DV conviction, M1 or higher.

  • Fifth Degree Felony if the victim was pregnant. A first-time offense will likely be charged as s fifth degree felony, with fines up to $2,500, and a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 6 months; mandatory minimum prison sentence of 12 months if the victim's unborn was harmed

  • Fourth Degree Felony if the offender has one prior domestic violence conviction: punishable by 6 -18 months in prison, and $5,000 in fines. Mandatory minimum prison term of 6 months if the offender knew the victim was pregnant, and minimum prison term of 12 months if the victim's unborn was harmed.

  • Thrid Degree Felony if the offender has two or more prior DV convictions: punishable by up to 3 years in prison, and $10,000 in fines. Mandatory minimum prison term of 6 months if the offender knew the victim was pregnant, and minimum prison term of 12 months if the victim's unborn was harmed.

  • Firearms Restrictions for any DV conviction, M1 or higher.

Additional considerations in domestic violence cases that can affect charges and penalties:

Severity of injuries to the victim

Age of the victim

Whether a firearm was used in the incident

Other circumstances surrounding the incident

Call the lawyers of Dearie, Fischer & Mathews if you have been charged with domestic violence

If you have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, contact the law offices of Dearie, Fischer & Mathews. Our attorneys have decades of experience in local courts litigating domestic violence cases and protecting the rights of the accused throughout Ohio. We will be happy to assist you in evaluating the charges brought against you, the potential penalties that they bring, and in building a case to protect your rights under state and federal law.

(513) 932-5529 Lebanon, Warren County, Butler County, Hamilton County, Cincinnati Area

(937) 306-6402 Beavercreek, Montgomery County, Greene County, Dayton Area