We understand that you are in a difficult situation the moment you are charged with Domestic Violence. Your reputation suffers immediate harm; you will likely be arrested and placed in jail until you obtain a hearing in Court; you will likely be placed under a Temporary Restraining Order, potentially barring you from contact with loved ones and keeping you from your home.
In my more than 25 years of practicing law, I have represented clients in hundreds of Domestic Violence cases in Ohio. Most of these cases involve the alleged violence of a boyfriend or husband against a girlfriend or wife, but reverse cases are on the rise. Also frequent are other family members and relationships becoming involved in domestic violence situations.
What Can Happen if I am Convicted of Domestic Violence?
The penalties for a DV conviction can be very serious. A conviction will be either a misdemeanor or felony conviction, and can potentially include:
· jail/prison time and heavy fines
· social stigma and a reputation as someone who is a danger to others
· difficulty in obtaining and retaining employment and professional licenses
· restrictions on access to and custody of your children.
Contact us for assistance in protecting your rights if you are charged with Domestic Violence. In Lebanon, Warren County and Butler County, call (513) 932-5529. In Beavercreek, Montgomery County and Greene County call (937) 306-6402.
What is Domestic Violence?
A criminal Domestic Violence charge can be leveled against you if you are accused of an act or threat of serious physical harm against a member of your family or household.
Examples of Domestic Violence may include: intentional harm of another person; acting recklessly in a manner that causes harm to another person; threatening bodily injury to another; using force or threats to prevent another person from obtaining help; using force or threats to prevent another person from leaving the premises.
What is Meant by "Family or Household Member" in Ohio Law?
In Domestic Violence law, family/household members include any of the following who are residing with or have resided with the alleged offender:
· a spouse, former spouse, or person living as an intimate partner of the offender, or person who has cohabited with the offender within the last five years. Any person related by blood or affinity to a a spouse, former spouse, or person living as an intimate partner of the offender, or person who has cohabited with the offender within the last five years.
· parent, foster parent, or child of the offender
· the natural parent of any child for whom the offender is the other parent.
What happens if I am charged with Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence charges may be brought when an alleged victim makes an accusation and calls law enforcement. The law enforcement officer arrives and makes an assessment of the situation, very often making an arrest on the scene. Arrests often occur even when the only evidence is the statement of the alleged victim.
Once charged, the accused can expect:
· to spend time in jail until he/she is brought before the judge in the case.
· to be placed under and immediate Temporary Protective Order (TPO), restricting your access to the alleged victim
· to have your firearms privileges revoked and all of your firearms confiscated for the duration of the case.
For more information on domestic violence arrests, read our article :"Are police required to make an arrest for every domestic violence call?"
What Is A Temporary Protective Order (TPO)?
A Temporary Protective Order or TPO, is a type of restraining order, that requires the defendant to stay away from the alleged victim during the course of the criminal Domestic Violence case. This of course may mean that you will have to stay away from your home and family members until the case is resolved. You may be restricted from communicating with the alleged victim through in-person visits, telephone, texting, or even contact through a third party.
As difficult as this may be, it is very important that you not violate the conditions of the TPO. A violation of the TPO is an additional criminal offense, and will result in more criminal charges against you. For a first violation of a TPO, defendants face being charged with a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a possible $1000 fine. For repeated violations of the TPO, defendants may be charged with a felony of the fifth degree and may face up to one year in jail and a possible $2500 fine.
If placed on a Protective Order restriction, it is extremely important that you not contact the alleged victim in any manner or for any reason. Usually, attempts to contact the alleged victim through any means are disallowed under the Protection Order: no texts, phone calls, emails, voicemail messages. You may even be barred from contacting the alleged victim through a third party.
Defendants often believe they can return phone calls or texts as long as the alleged victim reached out first, but such is not the case. It important to realize that these restrictions go one way: you could be arrested if you make any attempt to contact the alleged victim, but there is no restriction for the alleged victim to contact you. Still, you may not return phone calls, emails, letters or any other form of communication, even if initiated by the alleged victim. As long as the Protective Order is in place, you may not have any contact with the alleged victim. Efforts to do so may result in your arrest.
How Can a Domestic Violence Charge Affect My Firearms Rights?
When charged with Domestic Violence:
Under Ohio law, your firearms are confiscated upon your being charged with Domestic Violence. Law Enforcement retains all guns and ammunition for the duration of your case. If you are cleared of Domestic Violence charges or if you plead to a lesser offense, your guns will be returned to you, and there will likely be no permanent restrictions on your ability to possess or obtain firearms.
If convicted of Domestic Violence:
If you are convicted of Domestic Violence, you face the possibility of losing firearms privileges for life. I have worked on appeals for clients who did not realize this before pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge. In most cases, the Court is required to notify you prior to accepting your guilty plea that you face a lifelong firearms restriction across all 50 states if you are convicted of Domestic Violence.
For more information on how a Domestic Violence conviction can affect your firearms rights, read our article, "Firearms Restrictions with Domestic Violence Charges in Ohio".
How is Domestic Violence Charged in Ohio?
In the last several years, Ohio Courts and prosecutors' offices have taken a very hard line on Domestic Violence cases. Great deference is given to victims of alleged domestic violence. When a person claims to be a victim of Domestic Violence, those charges are taken very seriously in Ohio in Butler, Warren, Montgomery, Greene, Clinton, and Clermont Counties.
Depending on the seriousness of the charge, Domestic Violence can be charged as a Misdemeanor (a less serious offense) or a Felony (a very serious offense). Both misdemeanors and felonies are separated into degrees, with First Degree being the most serious. For an offense that has allegedly caused actual physical harm to the victim, a defendant could be charged with anything from a 1st degree misdemeanor to a 3rd degree felony. For threats of physical harm against another person, an offender can be charged with anything from a fourth degree misdemeanor to a first degree misdemeanor.
For information on penalties for a domestic violence conviction, read our article: "Penalties for Domestic Violence in Ohio: A Helpful Guide."
What if the Alleged Victim Wishes to Withdraw Domestic Violence Charges?
In many areas of Criminal Law, a prosecutor will give a great deal of weight to a victim's request that the state withdraw criminal charges. In domestic violence cases in recent years, once the case enters the Court system, the state is very reluctant to withdraw charges even if the victim recants or decides he/she no longer wishes to see charges pursued. We have had some success in negotiating reduced charges and even dismissals for clients when the victim recants.
If you are accused of domestic violence, you may feel like you are presumed guilty. A skilled lawyer can help you make sure your rights are protected and that you receive every benefit of the law.
What if This is My First Domestic Violence Charge?
Defendants who have never been in trouble with Domestic Violence charges before will often be charged with a Misdemeanor, usually of the first degree (the most serious misdemeanor offense). Sometimes, however, depending on the circumstances, a defendant is charged with a lesser offense, even a fourth degree misdemeanor. If the harm to the alleged victim is very serious, a defendant could be charged with a felony even on the first offense. Certainly, during the course of the criminal proceedings, our attorneys will attempt to convince the Court to reduce the charges to a less serious offense to even to dismiss the charges.
What if I Have Been Convicted of Domestic Violence Before?
Defendants with a prior DV conviction face a very serious charge. After a first DV conviction, defendants will be charged with a mandatory felony for any subsequent violations.
What if The Alleged Victim of Domestic Violence is Pregnant?
If the Defendant is found to have known that an alleged DV victim was pregnant, there is mandatory minimum sentence of six months to one year for a conviction. Penalties are harsher for incidents that involved actual harm to the mother and/or harm to the baby. But even threats of physical harm to a pregnant victim carries minimum jail time if convicted.
How Can I Fight Domestic Violence Charges?
Due to the seriousness of the charges and the possible of a DV conviction, it is highly recommended that you obtain an attorney as soon as possible. It is highly advisable that you hire an attorney to prior to the first hearing. It is also advisable, with a Domestic Violence charge or any other criminal charge that you not talk to any police or detectives before obtaining an attorney.
Can a Past Domestic Violence Charge or Conviction Be Expunged?
If you are interested in pursuing an expungement or sealing of a domestic violence charge or conviction, please read our article "Can a Domestic Violence Record Be Expunged in Ohio?"
How Can a Lawyer Help with My Domestic Violence Charges?
The lawyers of Dearie, Fischer & Mathews will help protect your rights and develop defense strategies to increase your chances of having your charges dismissed or significantly reduced. Ohio domestic violence law is detailed and complicated. Our lawyers are familiar with local Courts and can help you understand the strength of your case, and the likelihood of a favorable outcome either at trial or at the negotiating table. Our lawyers' skills and experience will help you navigate the legal process and help you understand the charges against you. During your first visit or phone call, we can do an initial assessment of your case, and give you a good idea of your personalized defense strategy including how much our services will cost.
Give us a call, any time day or night.
In Lebanon, Warren County and Butler County, Ohio call (513) 932-5529.
In Beavercreek, Montgomery County and Greene County, Ohio call (937) 306-6402.