Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorneys

When it comes to an argument with a roommate, wife, husband, partner, things can escalate quickly sometimes. A person doesn’t mean to get angry and typically they are good people. But someone shoves the other, the police are called, and next thing you know, you are in jail and arrested on a Family Violence Charge. Typically referred to Domestic Violence. At this point, you will need an Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Atlanta defines family violence as one of the specified criminal acts between certain family members. Family violence offenses typically carry greater potential penalties than identical violent acts committed among persons who are not protected under the family violence laws. Atlanta law provides a procedure for family violence victims to obtain protective orders against their alleged abusers. The law also places certain responsibilities upon law enforcement officers investigating allegations of family violence.

Definition of Family Violence

Atlanta defines “family violence” as any commission of a battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, criminal trespass, or any felony committed between the following persons:

  • current or former spouses
  • persons who are parents of the same child
  • parents and children
  • stepparents and stepchildren
  • foster parents and foster children, or
    persons currently or formerly living in the same household.
  • Georgia’s definition of family violence expressly excludes a parent’s “reasonable discipline” of a child that takes the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention.

(O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1)

Penalties

Most acts involving family violence are punished more severely than identical acts committed between people who do are not in a domestic relationship.

For example, a conviction for battery is punished as a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum of 12 months in jail or a $1,000 fine, or both. While a first conviction for family violence battery also carries a maximum of 12 months in jail and $1,000 fine, subsequent convictions for family violence battery are felonies punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Batteries not involving family violence are treated as felonies only where the defendant has two or more prior convictions for batteries committed against the same victim (or where the perpetrator works at a long-term care facility, assisted living community, personal care home, hospice, or for a home healthcare provider and batters a patient).

(O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23.1)

Similarly, most simple assaults are punished as misdemeanors; however simple assaults involving family violence (or committed against public school employees, persons over 65, pregnant women, or committed in a public transit vehicle or station) are punished as misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature. While misdemeanors normally carry maximum punishment of 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine, a high and aggravated misdemeanor carries a potential fine of $5,000. Although jail time for a high and aggravated misdemeanor cannot exceed 12 months, a person incarcerated for a high and aggravated misdemeanor may receive no more than four days credit per month for good behavior; inmates under sentence for ordinary misdemeanors may receive up to two days credit for every day served, and inmates assigned to work detail may receive four days credit towards their sentence for every day served.

Law Enforcement Duties

Atlanta law places certain requirements and prohibitions on law enforcement officers investigating an allegation of family violence. Specifically, an officer’s decision of whether to arrest and charge the alleged perpetrator may not be based on the victim’s consent or solely on the victim’s request that the offender not be arrested. Officers are also prohibited from threatening to arrest all parties where the purpose of the threat is to discourage requests for law enforcement involvement in the situation. Officers must attempt to identify the primary aggressor where two or more opposing parties allege family violence. Officers must also complete a Family Violence Report that contains information such as the parties’ identifying information, the nature of the abuse alleged, and whether children were involved or witnessed the alleged abuse.

(O.C.G.A. § 17-4-20.1)

These laws can be complex and are often misunderstood. More often than not, it simply comes down to a “He said, She said” type of case. But make no mistake, if there is any kind of physical violence. The Police will have a criminal photographer and a Family Violence Case Worker at the scene long before a person can post bail.

If you or someone you know has been charged with an Atlanta Family Violence crime, you are going to need a Attorney right away. These cases can last up to a year. Contact the Howard Law Group ASAP so we can start defending you against these charges.

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