Understanding legal ramifications of domestic violence: a comprehensive guide.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska
Domestic violence has become an increasingly large problem over recent years. In fact, an estimated 10 million people in the United States experience domestic violence on a yearly basis. However, some people choose to use false claims of domestic violence for nefarious reasons, such as in a divorce or custody battles. This is why learning about the legal consequences of domestic violence and the steps to take after being falsely accused is so important.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence, sometimes called domestic abuse, refers to the pattern of behavior in a domestic relationship that is used to gain control or power over the other person. This abuse can come in the form of physical, sexual, emotional, and even psychological, which is why it can be so hard to detect.
More often than not, the goal of domestic violence is to use behavior that is frightening, intimidating, manipulative, or wounding in such a way as to exert power over another. Victims of domestic violence are not limited to those involved in intimate relationships. Children, relatives, or any household members can also be victims of domestic violence.
Incidents of domestic violence are rarely isolated and typically happen on a frequent basis.
Common signs of domestic violence
When examining a domestic violence case in a court of law, the common signs of domestic violence will be looked at. Most notably, these include:
- Did the person strike you physically?
- Has the person used intimidation or other threats to force you into compliance?
- Did the person gaslight you in such a way that you were isolated?
- Did they pressure you into a sexual activity you did not wish to partake in?
- Do you feel as if there is “no way” out of the relationship because of what the person says?
- Does the person stop you from doing things you enjoy or from seeing people you’d like to see?
While there are far more signs of domestic violence than just those above, these are the primary factors that a court may look at when examining a case. Be aware that if you are falsely accused of domestic violence, your accuser will need to prove examples of the above to justify their case.
Is domestic violence a felony?
Domestic violence charges can be either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the severity and type of domestic violence charge. Most of the time, a domestic violence case will be elevated to felony charges if harm or sexual assault was caused to a minor, the serious bodily injury occurred, sexual assault occurred, or prior convictions exist.
A criminal defense lawyer specializing in domestic violence will likely mount a different defense depending on whether or not you get charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Not only will the severity of the crime be used to determine the charge, but the impact on the victim as well.
What legal charges are associated with domestic violence?
The penalties for domestic violence will vary from state to state along with the severity of the crime. For example, most states have a minimum sentence required for misdemeanor or felony convictions of domestic violence. For felony cases, a minimum of four years in state prison is a common charge, but the length of time could increase drastically depending on how injured the other person was.
For misdemeanor charges, the standard punishment is typically around up to one year in jail and a fine for a couple of thousand dollars.
What to do if accused of domestic violence
Finding yourself on the other end of a domestic violence accusation is troubling. If accused of domestic violence, take the following steps:
- Don’t react with anger or contact the person who is accusing you
- Reach out to a criminal defense lawyer right away
- Don’t destroy any evidence that may be used in your defense, even if you think it’s meaningless
- Begin to think about who may be able to testify on your behalf
- Think about any verifiable alibis that you may have
When charged with domestic violence, the most important first step is to secure a legal defense as soon as possible so that your charges can get reduced or dropped.
Find a domestic violence lawyer today
Being the subject of a domestic violence accusation is never a good thing and mounting a strong legal defense for your case should always be the first priority. Reach out to a renowned criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you are accused of domestic violence to have your case researched, investigated, and successfully defended.