Domestic violence crimes include criminal acts between family members, such as former or current spouses, parents, children, and those living in the same household. Under Georgia law, domestic violence crimes include simple assault, assault, stalking, battery, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, and other types of violent felonies. Receiving a domestic violence conviction can cause difficulties in every aspect of your professional and personal life.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in Georgia, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The penalties for domestic violence charges in Georgia are harsh, and they can negatively affect your life for a long time. At Carter/Pilgrim, our Atlanta criminal defense lawyers have a successful track record of advocating for clients charged with domestic violence crimes. Contact our Atlanta law firm today to schedule your initial appointment and learn how we can advocate on your behalf.
Understanding Georgia’s Domestic Violence Laws
Most domestic violence or domestic abuse crimes occur between people in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence crimes are not limited to spouses, however. They can include all of the following types of relationships:
- Spouses and former spouses
- Parents and children
- Parents of the same child
- Stepparents and stepchildren
- Foster parents and foster children
- People who live in the same household
- People who formerly lived in the same household
Under Georgia law, crimes that occur between family members or household members are treated differently and considered domestic violence acts. Acts of family violence or domestic violence include any commission of “battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, criminal trespass, or any felony.” Georgia law makes an exception for parents who are administering “reasonable discipline” to a child or children, in the form of restraint, detention, or corporal punishment.
Domestic Violence Investigations
Georgia law enforcement officers must initiate a formal investigation of domestic violence after someone reports violence or threats of violence, even when the person reporting the violence has no witnesses or corroborating evidence to support the accusation. Unfortunately, some domestic violence accusations are made falsely, due to a resentful or angry significant other or spouse who would like to penalize his or her partner. Any household member can make a domestic violence accusation in the heat of a verbal dispute or conflict.
Types of Domestic Violence Crimes
Law Enforcement Officers consider domestic violence crimes to be dangerous for the parties involved and for themselves. Typically when they arrive at the scene of a domestic violence situation, they will arrest and charge someone with little to no investigation, based on another person’s accusation. The following types of behavior are considered domestic violence crimes under Georgia law:
- Child abuse
- Spousal abuse
- Elder abuse
- Spousal rape
- Sexual abuse
- Assault and battery
- Verbal threats
- Verbal assault
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
Violation of Family Violence Protective Orders
When a person alleges that a family member has engaged in violence against her or him, that individual can seek a protective order from a Georgia Superior Court. The person petitioning for the protective order will need to provide facts and details showing that family violence has taken place and will continue to happen unless the court steps in and issues a protective order.
Georgia courts have the authority to issue temporary protective orders against a person, and the court will schedule a hearing no later than 30 days after the petition is filed. During the hearing, the petitioner seeking the protective order needs to prove that the facts he or she alleged in the petition are true by a preponderance of the evidence. Georgia courts have the right to order the accused domestic violence abuser to stay away from the victim, force the accused to leave the shared house, award temporary custody to the non-abusive parent, and order counseling.
Being the subject of a family violence protective order is not in itself a criminal charge. However, if you violate a Georgia protective order, you can face misdemeanor charges, and potentially face more serious criminal charges for aggravated stalking. If you are facing charges for violation of a protective order in Georgia, it is essential that you speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The consequences of receiving a conviction for violating a protection order will stay with you for a long time.
Penalties in Georgia
Crimes against family members often carry harsher penalties than the same types of crimes committed against non-family members. For example, when the defendant assaults a random third party they don’t know, the penalties will be less severe than if the person assaulted is the defendant’s spouse because of Georgia’s domestic violence laws. Penalties for conviction of domestic violence charges in Georgia vary depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the domestic violence charge. Additionally, criminal penalties for child abuse are more severe than the criminal penalties for a battery charge.
Defendants who are convicted of domestic violence charges in Georgia face penalties beyond jail time and fines. Many unforeseen consequences can happen after being convicted of a crime in Georgia, such as loss of your employment, loss of a firearm permit, deportation, loss of professional and business licenses, and difficulty obtaining an education. Employers in some industries refuse to hire job applicants with a domestic violence conviction on their record.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
If you’re facing domestic violence charges, you are likely worried about going to jail or losing custody of your children. At Carter/Pilgrim, we understand that domestic violence cases often come down to a he-said-she-said situation. We have the resources and experience needed to investigate your case and advocate strongly in your defense thoroughly. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.