Every case is different. Every relationship is different. Most people charged with domestic violence have little to no criminal record and experience a range of emotions, including anger, shame, insult, and fear. The charge is usually the result of an unhealthy relationship that involves spite, stress, miscommunication, pride, and sometimes false allegations, exaggerations, or ulterior motives. There are always 2 sides to a story. Make sure your side is heard by an attorney strong enough to represent your interests.
In Ohio, domestic violence is defined as an act (or threat) of violence against a family or household member. Domestic violence charges range from misdemeanors to high-level felonies depending on the circumstances. Most times domestic violence is charged as a 1st degree misdemeanor (penalties include up to 180 days in jail, up to $1,000 fine, and up to 5 years probation).
Who is a family or household member under Ohio Law?
- Person living as spouse;
- Former spouse;
- Parents or children;
- Foster parent;
- Aunt or uncle;
- Parent or child of spouse or ex-spouse;
- Natural parent of any child with whom defendant is the other natural parent.
- Girlfriends or boyfriends;
- Roommate; and
- Any person related by consanguinity or affinity to defendant;
Consequences of being charged
Simply being charged will sometimes result in loss of employment and removal from one’s home. Under Ohio revised code section 2903.213, a judge can issue a protection order if they believe the safety of the alleged victim is at risk. The alleged victim does not have to request this, it is strictly up to the judge. An experienced domestic violence defense attorney can revisit and try to modify this order down the road.
The potential penalties for domestic violence increase if you have prior conviction(s) for domestic violence, if the prosecuting witness is pregnant, or if the prosecuting witness incurs serious physical harm. A conviction can also result in permanent loss of: employment, firearm ownership, professional licensing and military service.
Domestic Violence Defenses
Domestic violence should be taken seriously because it is a serious offense. Domestic violence allegations are often based on an injury and statement of one person. Unfortunately, sometimes those allegations are false, exaggerated, later recanted, or the product of an ulterior motive. Makridis Law Firm will make sure you are treated fairly and not wrongly or excessively punished. We will review the evidence, investigate thoroughly, explore all legal defenses, and negotiate a fair settlement. If that can’t be done, we may take the case to trial and let a jury decide the outcome. The following are examples of defenses that can be used in certain domestic violence cases:
False Allegations – Some alleged victims will falsely claim the defendant committed domestic violence against them. There are many reasons a person might do this, including spite, jealousy, being under the influence, to gain custody of a child, to gain a favorable position in a divorce, etc. In these situations, it is extremely important to hire an attorney who will help you develop your best defense.
Recanting Witness – Some alleged victims recant their original story. This requires a different analysis of the case, including a comparison of the new story with the old. Many times, the new story will weaken the prosecutor’s case and force a reduction or dismissal of the charges. On the flip side, the prosecutor can also choose to cross-examine their own alleged victim with the prior inconsistent statements given to the police.
Inconsistent Statement – There are many times an alleged victim might give their version of what happened to law enforcement, and many times their story evolves or changes. Sometimes these changes are trivial and other times they are significant. An experienced domestic violence lawyer will request and review each and every statement given by an alleged victim and check them for inconsistencies. This can provide crucial information towards the defense of a case.
Unavailable Witness – Many times an alleged victim will not show up for court, regardless of being subpoenaed to appear. This will sometimes result in a reduction or dismissal of the charges. Other times the prosecutor will still go forward with a trial without the alleged victim and prove their case through officer testimony, 911 calls, eye-witness testimony, body-camera video footage, photos of injuries, and initial statements made to the police.
Self Defense – Sometimes the alleged victim is the one who initiates the domestic violence or causes the situation to escalate. If the alleged victim actually provoked or attacked the defendant, self-defense may be the best defense.
Defense of Others – It may be necessary to use force to prevent a family or household member from inflicting bodily harm or injury to another person.
Lack of one of the elements of the offense – For example, intent to harm or cause fear in someone is an element of the domestic violence offense that the prosecutor must prove at trial. If the prosecutor is unable to prove each and every element of the offense, a jury cannot find the person guilty.