Allegations of domestic violence are serious criminal charges. A conviction of domestic violence can result in numerous negative consequences.
In addition to facing jail time and potential fines, domestic violence charges can impact custody and divorce proceedings. A conviction results in a criminal record that follows you for the rest of your life. You could lose some of your civil rights, such as the right to own or possess a firearm.
If the judge issues a protection order, you may not be able to live or work in certain places. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer can be the best step you take to protect yourself if you are accused of domestic violence.
How Can a Domestic Violence Lawyer Help Me?
A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are accused of domestic violence. There are several benefits of having a domestic violence lawyer.
Help With Immediate Consequences
Allegations of domestic violence can have immediate consequences that create urgent concerns. If you are living with your accuser, you might be ordered to vacate your home. An attorney advises you of your legal rights and your options for fighting restraining orders and other temporary orders related to domestic violence.
Investigating the Allegations Against You
Having a criminal defense lawyer means that you have someone who understands the potential consequences of a guilty verdict. Your lawyer investigates and gathers evidence to refute the domestic abuse charges.
You are likely under an order not to contact your accuser. It is also unwise for you to talk with any witnesses or other individuals about the claim. Therefore, you need an attorney who can investigate the matter on your behalf and gather evidence that you would not otherwise be able to obtain for your defense.
Guidance and Support Throughout the Case
Your lawyer also provides a list of do’s and don’ts to prevent you from making mistakes or errors that could make it harder to defend yourself against domestic violence charges. For example, your lawyer might advise you to stop using social media until your case is resolved. Your lawyer reviews the terms of your protection order with you to ensure that you understand each requirement, so you do not unintentionally violate the order.
A criminal defense lawyer prepares you for court hearings. Dealing with a domestic violence charge can be overwhelming. If you have never been charged with a crime, appearing in criminal court may cause a significant amount of anxiety.
Your attorney ensures that you know where to appear, what time to be in court, and what to wear to court. He explains what will happen in court so that you know what to expect.
Develop a Defense Strategy
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer also means that you have someone to fight for you in court. Your lawyer analyzes all facts and evidence in your case to develop a defense strategy that gives you the best chance of beating domestic violence charges.
Negotiate a Plea Agreement
In some cases, the best defense strategy is to negotiate a plea deal that avoids the most serious penalties and consequences of a domestic violence charge. Your lawyer uses the weaknesses in the state’s case to negotiate the best plea deal available.
In many cases, prosecutors offer better deals to defendants who have attorneys because the prosecutors want to avoid a trial. The prosecutors know that if the defendant has an attorney, there could be a good chance the attorney takes the matter to court if the prosecutor is unwilling to negotiate a fair plea agreement.
Assistance with Bail Hearings
Bail hearings for domestic violence charges have become tougher since the enactment of Amy’s Law. The law makes it more difficult to obtain bail in certain domestic violence cases.
The arresting officer must complete a risk assessment form after your arrest and submit the form to the judge. The judge reviews the risk assessment and considers other factors to determine whether you can be released on bail. If bail is granted, the judge may impose terms based on the risk assessment.
A criminal defense lawyer works to ensure that you receive a fair bail hearing. He may be able to minimize the amount of bail or the terms of bail in some cases.
What are the Potential Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges?
Your criminal defense lawyer reviews all potential defenses to the charges against you. There could be one or more potential defenses to domestic violence charges, depending on your case’s facts and circumstances.
Defenses that might be available for your case include:
If you were trying to defend yourself, your children, or another family member, you might be able to claim self-defense. Evidence that can be useful in a self-defense case includes video of the incident and eyewitness testimony. Your attorney could have the domestic violence charges dismissed if you meet the legal requirements for a self-defense claim.
The accuser sometimes fabricates domestic violence allegations. The accuser may be angry at you and seeking revenge for a perceived wrong. Your accuser may be trying to gain the upper hand in a divorce action or child custody case.
As with a self-defense claim, video evidence and eyewitness testimony can be vital pieces of evidence. An investigator may also uncover text messages, emails, and other evidence of threats by the accuser to use fabricated domestic violence allegations.
Accidents in the home occur. If you unintentionally cause a family member to sustain an injury, that is not a crime. Testimony from other witnesses can help clear charges of domestic violence in these situations.
Lack of Evidence
The state must prove the legal elements of a domestic violence charge to obtain a conviction. If the state does not have enough evidence to meet the burden of proof, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to have the charges dropped or dismissed.
What is at Stake if I Am Convicted of Domestic Violence in Ohio?
The penalties for a domestic violence charge can be severe. Domestic violence charges can range from a first-degree misdemeanor to felony charges. The penalty for a first-degree domestic violence misdemeanor conviction involving physical harm to the victim can include a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
The sentence increases substantially if it involves harm to a pregnant woman or you have prior convictions for domestic violence. In those cases, you could be fined up to $10,000 and spend up to three years in prison.
Even threats to family members without physical harm can result in a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days in jail. Any time in jail could result in job loss and other adverse consequences. You also have a criminal record that could increase the punishment if you are convicted of another domestic violence charge in the future.
Call Our Dayton Criminal Defense Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you are charged with domestic violence, exercise your right to remain silent except for asking for a Dayton criminal defense lawyer. Our lawyers at Suhre & Associates, LLC are here to help you fight charges of domestic violence.
You do not have to face these allegations alone. Learn about your legal rights and potential defenses to domestic violence charges during a free consultation with one of our lawyers.