What You Should Know About Family ViolenceWritten on May 28, 2014
Domestic violence affects people every day. Often times, an argument can quickly escalate to the point where somebody fears for their safety or is physically hurt. This isn’t a topic to be taken lightly, so you should be aware of how the law defines domestic violence.
The law in Georgia makes the distinction between offenses, as it relates to family violence, by looking at the relationship of the people involved. Battery may occur between two strangers. But family violence battery takes into account how the involved parties know each other. Under the law, in order for an act to be considered family violence, one of the following relationships must exist.
- Past or present spouses
- Persons who are parents of the same child
- Parents and children
- Stepparents and stepchildren
- Foster parents and foster children
- Other persons living or formerly living in the same household
The difference between the charges is how a person could be sentenced if convicted. Both battery and family violence battery are misdemeanors. However, if convicted of a second or subsequent charge of family violence battery against the same or another victim, it will be a felony. That’s a huge difference in fines and potential incarceration. In order for battery to be a felony, without the family violence component, a person would have to be convicted of the offense for a third time against the same person.
So what happens when the police are called and it appears that family violence has occurred? A law enforcement officer can’t base the decision on whether or not to arrest somebody based solely on the request of the alleged victim. Instead, an officer must evaluate the situation and determine who the primary aggressor was. If one party is found to be the aggressor that person will go to jail. There are times when both parties get locked up after an incident of family violence if it’s not clear who the aggressor was.
It’s a common misconception to think that a victim can simply “not press charges” against the aggressor and have the whole situation go away. That’s not the case. If the police are involved and believe family violence has occurred, and a determination is made who was the aggressor, the officer will make an arrest. He or she will then go before a judge and take out on a warrant based on the facts presented.
Family violence is a very complex issue. When tempers flare and arguments begin, things can happen quickly. The best thing to do is walk away before the situation gets out of hand. However, if you find yourself arrested for family violence, don’t attempt to fight the charges alone. You will need legal counsel to make sure you are treated fairly as you navigate the legal system. The Silverbach Group is on your side. We are available for consultation and assistance at 770-635-0334.