Domestic Violence

Georgia Domestic Violence Laws

Referred to as family violence in Georgia courts, domestic violence charges can affect you for the rest of your life. They create a particularly difficult situation with everyone due to the relationships involved. If you are facing family violence charges, contact us for a consultation today.

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There are two factors in determining a family violence charge:

  1. Your relationship to the victim, and
  2. What was done to that person.

What constitutes “family”?

Family, in Georgia law and relative to the family violence laws, refers to spouses or ex-spouses, people who are parents of the same child, parents and children, step parents and step children, foster parents and foster children, or other people living or formerly living in the same household.

What constitutes “violence”?

Violence, when referring to family violence laws, means any felony, or assault and battery (battery, simple battery, assault, simple assault) stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass.

So, family violence occurs when two people whose relationship falls under the definition of family (above), commit a violent act as defined above.

The state may further investigate the claims of the victim and choose to press charges on the violent act.

**The act which constituted the violence, whether it be simple battery or assault, would be charged according to that offense, not according to any separate “domestic assault” or “family violence battery”. However, the sentence for assault when the victim is family will be far more severe.**

If a victim reports to the authorities that family violence has occurred or will occur in the future, and there is probably cause to back this up, they can seek protection by the law in the form of a protection order.

The protection can do many things including:

  • Order you to cease the violent acts that may have brought about the order,
  • Force you to leave your house, if the victim also resides there,
  • Make you find suitable housing for your spouse and/or children,
  • Award temporary custody of children and establish temporary visitation rights,
  • Order either person to make alimony or child support payments,
  • Award possession of property shared by both parties,
  • Order you to stop harassing or interfering with the victim, and/or
  • Award costs and attorney’s fees.

If you violate a family violence protection order, you face misdemeanor charges including up to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in prison.

Child Abuse

Child abuse encompasses 4 situations:

1. Non-accidental physical injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent or caregiver,

This does not include reasonable discipline.

2. Neglect or exploitation of a child by a parent or guardian,

3. Sexual abuse of a child, or

4. Sexual exploitation of a child.

As with other family violence, if you are charged with child abuse, your charge will be for the particular crime. For instance, you will be charged with assault or battery. But, as with other “domestic” crimes, sentences for these crimes against children are much more stringent.

All “family violence” offenses carry a harsher sentence:

Crime

Simple Battery

Simple Assault

Aggravated battery

Aggravated Assault

Victim is Unrelated Adult

Up to 1 year in prison and $1,000

Up to 1 year in prison and $1,000

1-20 years in prison

1-20 years in prison

Family Violence

Up to 1 year in prison and $5,000

Up to 1 year in prison and $5,000

25-50 years in prison

3-20 years in prison

Domestic violence charges can be particularly difficult to handle yourself. A person accused of domestic assault or domestic violence faces significant legal challenges, since district attorneys tend to dig in and aggressively prosecute these cases, regardless of the merits of the case. It is an unfortunate fact that in Georgia, the politics play into the courtroom. No district attorney running for re-election can afford to be accused of being “soft on domestic abuse” by pleading out or dealing too many cases.

If you are facing charges like these, you need an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney who knows how to negotiate the courtroom politics as well as the facts under the law. Please call us or contact us via email for a consultation on your case, and find out what we can do for you.