Georgia Family Violence
Family violence is defined in the state of Georgia as one of a number of specific criminal offenses perpetrated between specific family members. Georgia family violence charges are serious—and should be taken very seriously. Depending on the specific offense, and whether this is a first or subsequent family violence offense, the charges can be misdemeanor or felony charges. A conviction for Georgia family violence can result in long-term consequences, in addition to the criminal penalties.
It can become difficult to find employment, and, in the case of a felony conviction, certain rights may be affected, such as the right to own a firearm, vote, obtain a professional license, obtain a federal student loan, and even rent an apartment. The law places specific responsibilities on law enforcement to thoroughly investigate any allegation of Georgia family violence, whether the charges are stalking, criminal damage to property, simple battery, unlawful restraint, criminal trespass, simple assault, assault, or any felony committed between the following individuals:
- Any individuals who currently live or formerly lived in the same home;
- Current spouses;
- Former spouses;
- Individuals who are parents of the same child;
- Parents and their children;
- Stepparents and their stepchildren;
- Foster parents and their foster children
It is important to note that under current Georgia law, the definition of family violence excludes a parent’s “reasonable discipline” of a child which takes the form of corporal punishment, detention, or restraint.
Georgia Family Violence Conviction Can Result in Loss of Parental Rights
Future custody determinations can be affected by a conviction for family violence, particularly if the police report states that children witnessed the incident. The victim of domestic violence may also ask for a protective order, which includes the children. If such an order is granted, any attempt to contact the alleged victim or the children could result in misdemeanor charges with potential penalties of up to 12 months in jail and a fine as large as $1,000. Parental rights may be lost, even while the parent remains responsible for paying child support.
Penalties for Family Violence in Georgia
Punishment for acts of family violence between individuals listed above is more severe than the identical act committed between individuals who are not listed—those who are not in a domestic relationship. In other words, an assault committed by one spouse to the other spouse will be punished more severely than an assault committed by one person who has no relationship with the other.
As an example, in the state of Georgia, a battery conviction (a misdemeanor) carries a sentence of up to $1,000 in fines, a maximum of 12 months in jail, or both. A first conviction for family violence battery carries the same sentence, however, a subsequent conviction of family violence battery could be charged as a felony, resulting in up to five years in prison. A subsequent battery which does not involve family violence is treated as a felony only when there are two or more prior convictions of battery against the same victim.
While a simple assault is punished as a misdemeanor, simple assault involving family violence is punished as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. A high and aggravated misdemeanor conviction can result in a fine as large as $5,000, while a misdemeanor simple assault results in a maximum fine of $1,000.
Getting Legal Help Following Charges of Georgia Family Violence
Being charged with Georgia family violence is serious, with penalties which can have far-reaching effects. A highly skilled Georgia criminal defense attorney can look at your charges and the facts surrounding your case, determining whether there are weaknesses in the state’s case against you. Melanie Ellwanger is an experienced Georgia attorney who can seek to have the charges against you dropped, or negotiate a reduction in charges, as well as represent you before a jury should your case go to trial.
It is essential that your rights are protected following charges of Georgia family violence, and Melanie Ellwanger will guide you through the process, answering any questions you may have and looking out for your future. Melanie will comprehensively evaluate your case, then offer aggressive representation. ContactMelanie Ellwanger today at (404) 803-3105 for highly experienced, knowledgeable criminal and DUI representation.