Have you been charged with domestic violence in Columbus, OH? Call an experienced domestic violence attorney at (614) 547-5757 for a free consultation. Domestic violence charges are serious and can have devastating consequences for you and your future. Don’t waste more time and schedule today your free case consultation at James D. Owen, LLC. We are here to defend you.
How Will a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me If I’m Facing Domestic Violence Charges in Columbus?
Being charged with domestic assault is a very serious matter. Courts in Ohio are tough on these types of offenders and you may face significant penalties, including jail time. For that reason, if you believe you are under investigation, it is important to have a qualified attorney on your side from the beginning.
At James D. Owen, our Columbus criminal defense attorneys is experienced in these matters and will review your case thoroughly, exploring all possible defenses available to you. We will aggressively defend you throughout the entire legal process – from the arraignment and initial plea, all the way to representing you at trial, if necessary.
We will work with the prosecutor’s office to have your domestic violence charges reduced or even dropped, and make sure that any evidence that was wrongly obtained by police stays out of court.
Simply put, we’ll work hard to defend you and secure the best possible result for your criminal domestic violence case. Give our law offices a call today to schedule a free case assessment and learn more.
Overview of the Crime of Domestic Violence in Columbus, OH
Now, under Ohio domestic violence law, it is a crime to either knowingly or recklessly causing harm to a family or household member. It also includes any attempts to cause harm to these individuals as well as threatening force, provided the family or household member believed that harm was about to occur.
With that in mind, it is important to understand that the definition of family or household member is very broad and includes any person that lives with you, even roommates. It also includes the following:
- Spouses, common-law spouses, or former spouses
- Anyone who has cohabitated with you in a relationship within the last 5 years
- Parents or foster parents
- The parents or children of a spouse, and
- The parents of your child.
Bear in mind that the act of violence does not necessarily have to occur in the home to be considered domestic violence. Instead, it can take place anywhere, with the key consideration being whether or not the alleged victim shares with you one of the relationship types listed above.
Domestic Violence Related Offenses
As you might imagine, we often see other violations that occur alongside a domestic violence offense. These include:
Violation of a protection order: this would involve someone making illegal contact with you when there was an existing restraining order in place.
Stalking/menacing: this would involve someone engaging in a pattern of conduct that leads another to believe that the person will cause physical harm or mental distress. Keep in mind that this offense may be committed online as well.
Assault: note that in cases where a victim does not fall under one of the categories listed above, the perpetrator can still be charged with assault. Assault charges involve knowingly or recklessly causing harm to another, and also includes attempts to cause harm.
What Are the Penalties For Domestic Violence in Ohio?
With that in mind, the penalties for domestic violence depend largely on the act itself. Specifically, if a person causes or attempts to cause physical harm to a victim, this is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. It carries a potential jail term of up to 180 days and up to $1000 in fines.
By contrast, if a person threatens harm but does not carry out the threat, he or she could be instead charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor. This results in a potential jail sentence of up to 30 days, plus a maximum of $250 in fines.
Increased Penalties if the Victim was Pregnant
Note that the penalties are increased if the offender knew that the victim was pregnant. In this case, causing or attempting to cause physical harm is considered a fifth-degree felony. This carries a potential jail sentence of between 6 months and a year, plus up to $2,500 in fines. For threats made to a pregnant woman, the penalty is classified as a third-degree misdemeanor, which can result in a term of 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.
Increased Penalties for Prior Charges of Domestic Violence
Keep in mind that the penalties also go up if you have any prior charges of domestic violence convictions on your record. Specifically, if the act involved causing or attempting to cause harm, it is considered a fourth-degree felony. This can lead to between 6 and 18 months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. In cases where you have two or more past convictions, the penalty increases to between 9 months and 5 years behind bars, plus up to $10,000 in fines.
Now, if you have a prior and the crime involves threatening harm, this is deemed a second-degree misdemeanor. It can result in a jail sentence of up to 90 days as well as a maximum of $750 in fines. For offenders with two or more priors, the crime is considered a first-degree misdemeanor and is punished by up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
It’s also important to note that in responding to an allegation of domestic violence, law enforcement is authorized to seize any weapon used, brandished, or threatened during the commission of the crime. These items are held permanently by the police and they have the option of selling or destroying the object.
Domestic Violence Order of Protection
Note that a victim of domestic violence is entitled to seek what is known as an Order of Protection. This is also commonly referred to as a restraining order and serves as a legal requirement for you to stay away from the person or other household members, including children.
In addition, these orders typically make it illegal for you to possess or purchase any firearms while the requirement is in effect. This can be up to 5 years depending on your circumstances, and they can be renewed (although a hearing will be required). Further, keep in mind that these orders may be issued on a temporary basis while your charges are pending.
Violating an existing order for protection can subject you to a range of penalties. In fact, the charges can be classified anywhere from a first-degree misdemeanor up to a third-degree felony. This depends greatly on whether you had any prior violations and whether or not you were committing another felony at the time, such as an assault.
Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges in Columbus
Keep in mind that in all criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard and means that there can be no other logical conclusion from the facts presented other than you committed the crime. These cases can be difficult to prove as the only evidence may be a person’s word against yours.
You can make the state’s job even more challenging by having the experienced criminal defense attorneys at James D. Owen represent you. We’ll raise any argument in your defense that we think might undercut the state’s case against you.
There is also what is known as the “spousal privilege” that may come into play in these cases. This privilege means that a married couple can not be compelled to testify against one another about communications they had in private. If this occurs, the prosecution may be required to prove its case by other evidence.
But, it is important to keep in mind that it does not apply to every situation, and your spouse may choose to testify about matters other than the private communication. It does not apply if someone else was present when the communications took place or if the statements constituted threats or were part of violent acts.
In addition, sometimes these cases are a product of false allegations. For this reason, we will fully analyze all police reports and talk to each witness to determine whether there are any inconsistencies that require further investigation.
Another potential defense to a domestic violence charge is that you did not have the required mental state at the time the act occurred. Remember, these crimes require a person to have acted knowingly or recklessly. This means that if a victim is injured by accident, such as if you inadvertently fell on the person, this would not be a crime.
Self-defense is also a potential legal defense to these charges. However, in order for it to apply, you must be able to show that you used a reasonable amount of force to protect yourself against actual harm or the threat of harm. This can be a difficult defense to raise as you have the burden of proving that the force you used was reasonable. For example, it would not be reasonable if you seriously injured someone in response to a slap or push.
Call Our Columbus Domestic Violence Attorneys Today
As you can see, domestic violence cases in Columbus, OH can be quite complex. However, our law firm is experienced in helping with these very sensitive matters. Don’t hesitate to call our Columbus criminal defense lawyers today for legal advice and a free consultation.