FAMILY VIOLENCE BATTERY
A conviction for Family Violence Battery in Georgia can have consequences that go far beyond a conviction for other misdemeanors. Frequently, I meet with individuals who come to our office with citations from a police officer charging our client with battery or simple battery. The stories range in complexity, but often I learn from our initial consultation that the alleged victim in the case is someone who can elevate the charges from Battery to Family Violence Battery. Many times the Officers do not include the Family Violence component on the citation and clients are surprised to learn that their case can be modified by the State prosecutor to include even more consequences. For some clients, this is their first interaction with law enforcement and their concerns include: jail time, criminal history reports, and trial options. All of these concerns are very real when facing Family Violence Battery charges.
Before we get started with the impacts of a Family Violence Battery conviction, it’s important to note that not all charges for Battery and Simple Battery have a Family Violence Battery component. In order to be charged with Family Violence Battery the alleged victim must be:
- A spouse
- Persons who are parents of the same child
- Foster Children
- Other persons living in the same household (roommates)
State prosecutors will often include multiple counts of Battery, Simple Battery, and Family Violence Battery within one formal charging document, called an accusation. Unfortunately, many people go to court on their first court date, without exploring the consequences of a Family Violence Battery conviction, and enter a plea. Whether the person committed the acts alleged or they simply just want to put this chapter of their life behind them, even though they’re innocent, it’s vital to consult with an attorney. At the very least, an attorney can discuss the implications of being convicted of Family Violence Battery.
So how does it work? Every citizen who has been arrested for a crime is fingerprinted and has criminal history created that includes the arrest, the charging document (accusation or indictment), and the ultimate outcome of the case. A first conviction for Family Violence Battery is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in custody and a $1000 fine. A second or subsequent conviction with the same family member (as classified above) or another family member results in a felony conviction with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. O.C.G.A. 16-5-23.1.
While a first lifetime conviction of Family Violence Battery appears to be just a misdemeanor, there are several ancillary consequences that do always appear at first glance. For instance, under Federal law, any person convicted of a crime of domestic violence can no longer lawfully possess a firearm. Georgia’s classification of Family Violence Battery falls within the Federal definition of “domestic violence.” Thus, a Georgia citizen who has a conviction of Family Violence Battery can no longer possess a firearm without the possibility of facing criminal charges in Federal court.
In addition, while the maximum includes 12 months in custody and a $1000 fine, many Judges throughout the State will require individuals convicted of Family Violence Battery to serve time on probation in lieu of jail time, but with the conditions of completing a domestic violence program. These programs go by several different names, but they generally include 24 weeks of classes, counseling, and program fees that are no included in the fine levied by the Judge. In addition, Judges can add community service, counseling requirements, fines, and alcohol and drug evaluations. It is important to know that all of these things can be negotiated by your attorney.
Being charged with Family Violence Battery can be a stressful event in anyone’s life. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to explore the legal issues with every Family Violence Battery case. We are aware of all the possible options available to avoid jail time and to protect your criminal history and ultimately your privacy. If you or a loved one has been charged with Family Violence Battery, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.