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Domestic Violence Criminal Charges

Domestic violence is generally characterized as violent conduct toward a current or former intimate partner, spouse, person you live with, family member, or child.

Domestic violence may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense, making it all the more important to understand how states handle domestic violence and the importance of experienced legal representation for these charges.

What Behaviors Are Domestic Violence?

The crime of domestic violence can cover a broad number of behaviors including:

  • Physical abuse: inflicting violence, forcing alcohol or drug use, denying food or medical treatment, holding a person captive or restricting their movement
  • Sexual abuse: forcing, coercing, or attempting any sexual behavior, demanding a person perform sexual acts or expose sexual body parts, verbally demeaning language
  • Emotional or psychological abuse: diminishing their self-esteem, name-calling, constantly criticizing, isolating their personal relationships, blackmailing, threatening violence against their family, friends, or pets, detrimentally interfering with other aspects of their life
  • Economic abuse: controlling access to financial resources, withholding or taking away their funds, resources, prohibiting their ability to work
  • Threats: using verbal, written, or body language as forms of intimidation
  • Stalking and cyberstalking: continually spying on or following, appearing at their home or place of employment, sending unwanted gifts, collecting information or photographs of them, harassing in person, or sending repeated unsolicited communications online

Although this crime is uniquely defined by each state, the federal Violence Against Women Act has heavily influenced states to expand domestic violence laws and increase the associated penalties for convictions. To understand how this may impact your case, you may wish to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney to discuss your specific situation.

What Happens if You Are Charged With Domestic Violence?

Because of the serious nature of this crime, you must take a domestic violence charge seriously.

Some state laws require police officers to make an arrest on the scene of a domestic violence complaint if they have probable cause or you are violating a restraining order.

You are presumed to be innocent until you are proven guilty in a court, so there may be further police investigation to gather evidence or witness statements to build a case against you. During this time, you and your attorney can explore whether you may have a valid defense that clears you of this charge or reduces any negative outcomes from your case.

While the person who accused you may decide to drop the allegations, courts nationwide take victim and witness intimidation extremely seriously. While you are going through this process, you should not speak to the other party at all. If anyone does need to speak to the alleged victim, your attorney should handle any communication so you do not jeopardize your case or receive another criminal charge.

What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence?

Every state imposes their own set of penalties for domestic violence, and the severity of the punishment you receive depends on the nature of your situation, any criminal record, and whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony conviction.

Oftentimes, you may be required to perform community service, attend anger management classes, and serve jail time or be on probation. It is also common for the court to grant a protective order against you, meaning you will not be able to be near your alleged victim.

There are other legal effects of a domestic violence arrest as well. You may lose child custody or visitation rights you have. The status of any professional license or certification you have may change as well. And under federal law, you may not be able to purchase or own a gun whether you receive a misdemeanor or felony conviction.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Given the serious nature of this charge, you should consider hiring a criminal defense attorney with experience in domestic violence cases. Your attorney can help you understand your rights, explain how your state handles these cases, and advocate for you. Whether you have a criminal record or have never been in trouble before, your attorney can offer counsel on accepting a plea bargain or moving forward to trial.

Oftentimes, criminal defense attorneys offer free consultations to look over your case and explain the fees involved handling your case. Some law firms may require a retainer fee or offer payment plans if finances are an issue.

Speak to an Experienced Domestic Violence – Criminal Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified domestic violence – criminal lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local domestic violence – criminal attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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