Unfortunately, the rise of domestic violence accusations on America is on the rise. But many times, the presumption of innocence is thrown out the window when someone has been accused allowing for an unspecific, unsubstantiated accusation can make a life-long impact on the person accused. While some cases are fairly black and white, others are simply a case of “he said she said” and may never actually be drawn out to its conclusion, leaving the accused left with a tarnished reputation regardless of not being charged.
The Wieczorek Law Firm defends clients throughout the greater Cincinnati area against domestic violence charges. Contact us 24/7 for a free review of your case. Time is not on your side and you need an attorney you can trust to utilizing every defense possible to receive the best outcome.
Domestic Violence Overview
Chapter 2919 of the Ohio Revised Code deals with criminal offenses committed against the family. Specifically, 2919.25 defines Domestic Violence as a person who knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical harm to a family or household member, who recklessly causes serious physical harm to a family or household member; or use threat of force to knowingly cause a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.
Domestic Violence Definitions
A family or household member is defined as any of the following:
1. A spouse, person living as a spouse or a former spouse of the offender
2. A parent, foster parent, child of the offender, or other person related by consanguinity or affinity to the offender – this includes a pregnant woman’s unborn child
3. A parent or a child of a spouse, person living as a spouse, or former spouse of the offender.
It is important to understand the term “domestic violence” is not limited to a single action or event and may be used against you to encompass several behaviors between two people over a period of time. A domestic violence accusation does not need to include a physical attack, but may involve verbal and/or sexual attacks as well. After a domestic violence claim is made, it is likely that police will place the accused under arrest regardless of whether or not there is a lack of evidence or the accuser does not wish to press charges. It is also possible that a temporary protection order is typically made against the offender.
The Ohio courts also include same-sex couples that cohabitate together within the definition of Family or Household Member, under the Person Living as a Spouse designation.
Because the definition of a “family member” is fairly broad in the Ohio Revised Code, a multitude of charges fall into this category and range in their severity and punishment. Several common domestic violence charges are:
Evidence in Domestic Violence Charges
Even if the alleged victim in domestic violence case wishes to drop the charges due to a reconciliation or other circumstance, the decision to drop the charges rests solely in the hands of prosecutor in the case. If you’ve been charged with a domestic violence crime, it is important to understand the evidence required for a prosecutor to continue to press charges without the assistance of the victim.
In order to continue to prosecute the case, some form of physical evidence will likely be necessary to prove that a crime was committed. Common forms of physical evidence include:
1. Medical records documenting injuries
2. Photographs of the alleged victim’s injuries
3. The criminal record of the alleged offender showing previous domestic violence arrests or convictions
4. Recording of the original 911 call
5. Telephone records
6. Text messages, emails, social media messages or other communication between the alleged offender and victim
7. Other physical evidence including weapons, clothing, broken items from the scene, etc.
A written statement made by the alleged victim may be entered as evidence against the alleged offender. But if the victim is unwilling to testify to the accuracy of their statement, these documents may not be submitted as evidence in the case.
Because most cases of domestic violence occur between two people, prosecutors are forced to consider one person’s testimony against the others, with both accounts likely being completely different. Prosecutors will try to contact witnesses who may be able to account for the facts of the case. Unfortunately, witnesses not directly involved in the events in question tend to be biased for or against either party involved. An experience defense attorney can identify these perceived biases and utilize them to expose any exaggerated or made up testimonies of the event in question.
Common Domestic Violence Penalties
The specific facts and circumstances of each case will ultimately determine the penalty issued. Factors such as the nature of the crime, criminal record and sustained injuries can all influence the classification of the offense.
• Misdemeanor of the Fourth Degree — Menacing is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. Convictions are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $250.
• Misdemeanor of the Third Degree — Negligent assault and sexual imposition are third-degree misdemeanor offenses. Convictions are punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
• Misdemeanor of the Second Degree — Repeat domestic violence in which alleged offender, by threat of force, knowingly causes a family or household member to believe that the alleged offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member, is a second-degree misdemeanor. Convictions are punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $750.
• Misdemeanor of the First Degree — Aggravated menacing, menacing by stalking, simple assault, endangering children, and violation of protection order are all first-degree misdemeanor offenses. Convictions are punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.
• Felony of the Fifth Degree — A repeat violation of a protection order is a fifth-degree felony. Convictions are punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
• Felony of the Fourth Degree — Repeat menacing by stalking, aggravated assault, repeat endangering children, and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor are all fourth-degree felony offenses. Convictions are punishable by up to 18 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
• Felony of the Third Degree — Endangering children resulting in serious physical harm to the child, violation of protection order while committing a felony, and sexual battery are all third-degree felony offenses. Convictions are punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
• Felony of the Second Degree — Felonious assault, child abuse resulting in serious physical harm to the child, and sexual battery when an alleged victim is less than 13 years of age are all second-degree felony offenses. Convictions are punishable by up to eight years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000.
• Felony of the First Degree — Rape is a first-degree felony offense. Convictions are punishable by up to 11 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000.
If you’ve been accused of domestic violence crime you may be placed on probation depending on the type of crime you’ve been alleged of committing.
The two types of probation include:
An alleged offender must regularly meet with a probation officer and may be required to submit to random drug testing depending on their specific case. The offender may also be required to show proof of counseling services or complete necessary court-ordered programs. Failure to meet with a probation officer or satisfy court requirements can be a violation of probation that can result in criminal charges.
Also referred to as “paper-based probation” or “provided no convictions” (PNC), a non-reporting probation is largely handled through mail correspondence. The alleged offender does not have to meet with a probation office on a regular basis, but is still expected to abide by expectations set by the court. Any new criminal charges while on non-reporting probation can result in an alleged offender violating probation and possibly facing penalties relating to the suspended sentence.
Defense Strategy for Domestic Violence Charges
If you’ve been arrested after being accused of a domestic violence crime, it’s important to hire a defense attorney who understands the charges and can form the best defense strategy possible. Despite being arrested, your alleged involvement and guilt will still need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction.
Because most crimes involve some sort of dispute between two parties, it is common for their to be a lack of physical evidence against you. If a judge or jury is forced to consider two versions of the alleged incident, they are more likely to side with the alleged victim, meaning the alleged offender is already at a disadvantage.
It is important to contact our law firm immediately to allow our team to interview as early as possible. We’ll fight on your behalf for the best outcome possible based on the physical evidence involved in the case, possible witness or personal testimony.