Domestic violence is a very serious and complex issue. In the state of Georgia, both the criminal and civil courts take domestic violence very seriously, imposing strict penalties and guidelines for how to protect family members from harm.
If you are convicted for domestic assault more than once, you could potentially be facing up to 5 years in jail. In addition, you could be in danger of losing access to your family or being placed on a restraining order.
From our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Frye Law Group, here’s everything you need to know about the criminal penalties for domestic assault in Georgia.
Definition of domestic assault in Georgia
The common definition of domestic violence most often used in Georgia is “family violence.” (OCGA § 19-13-1) According to the Georgia Code, family violence is any felony committed between two people with one of the following relationship:
- past or present spouses
- people who are parents of the same child
- parents and children
- stepparents and stepchildren
- foster parents and foster children
- or anyone living or formerly living in the same household
While the code does state that any felony between family members meeting this definition can be considered family violence, it also gives a few examples of common offenses that fall under the family violence definition:
- battery or simple battery
- assault or simple assault
- criminal damage to property
- unlawful restraint
- criminal trespass
This definition is useful in Georgia law to clarify what counts as family violence as opposed to a regular violent criminal offense. However, when it comes to convicting and sentencing, each of these offenses have different definitions and penalties.
If you are accused of “domestic assault,” the crime you are most likely being charged with is family battery.
Sentencing for domestic assault in Georgia
According to Title 16 of the Georgia Code, battery is when one person “intentionally causes substantial physical harm or visible bodily harm to another.” (OCGA. § 16-5-23.1)
“Family battery” is when the offense of battery is committed between any of the people meeting the definition of family violence in the bulleted list above.
Like regular battery, a first conviction for family battery will be considered a misdemeanor, and is only punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or 12 months in jail.
However, unlike regular battery, any second conviction of family battery, even if it’s committed against a different person, will be considered a felony. This means that a second offense of family battery could be punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
In addition, violating a family violence protective order is a criminal offense that can potentially lead to jail time. In civil court, an individual may file a petition seeking protection from their family member due to domestic violence. A petition can also be filed on behalf of a minor child.
If granted, the court can issue a protective order that may require the person accused of domestic violence to leave their shared home, make child custody arrangements, or provide the victim with temporary housing. This is similar to a restraining order.
Violating a protective order is usually considered a misdemeanor, which means it’s punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or 12 months in jail.
Hire a criminal defense attorney today
Domestic violence is a serious issue, but so is protecting the rights of the accused. If you’ve been wrongfully accused of family violence in Georgia, or if you worry your rights will not be respected in court, the Frye Law Group can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.