Clayton County Family Violence Battery – Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney

A conviction for Family Violence Battery in Georgia can have consequences that go far beyond a conviction for other misdemeanors.   The State of Georgia, as a whole, has taken a stand against domestic violence.  There are domestic violence task forces across the State, and specialized prosecuting units. Every day we see the impact that family violence arrests have on Georgia’s criminal justice system. Police are told across the State to make arrests for Family Violence Battery if there is any evidence it occurred. Evidence, unfortunately, can be one-sided and be the result of a false allegation.  

For those who have been arrested for family violence, there may be feelings of anxiety and stress as it relates to the potential impact the case will have. Jail time, a criminal history, and forfeiture of firearms for life are all very real concerns when facing Family Violence Battery charges in Georgia. An arrest is not a conviction, and there are options in the criminal process for your Family Violence case.

In order to be prosecuted for Family Violence Battery, the State must prove that the alleged victim falls within the statutory definition for “Household Members or Family.”

Under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23.1, this includes past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.

            The State must also prove that there was either “substantial physical harm” OR “visible bodily harm” in a Family Violence Battery case in order to get convicted of the crime.

What happens after a Family Violence Arrest in Clayton County?

First, the person arrested for Family Violence Battery will have their booking photo and finger prints taken and then will be ordered into the Clayton County Detention Center. The booking process, through fingerprints, creates the official criminal history that is then made public. After the booking process, the person arrested for Family Violence will see a Judge in their First Appearance hearing. This is where Bond will be addressed.

In order to get out on bond in a Family Violence case, the Judge must find several factors to be true. The Judge must find that the person accused of Family Violence Battery:

(1) Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;

(2) Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;

(3) Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial; and

(4) Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.

These are referred to in Georgia as the ‘Ayala Factors’ based on the criminal case that first laid out what must be proven in order to get out on bond in a criminal case. Ayala v. State, 62 Ga. 704 (1993).  Retaining an attorney immediately at arrest means having representation at what many people view as the most important step: getting out of jail as soon as possible. A skilled attorney will do an investigation into the case  and allegations and put forth the best possible argument to have their client released on pretrial bond in their Family Violence case.

In a Family Violence case, the Judge may order certain requirements in order to be allowed out on bond. For example, the Judge can order domestic violence classes, or for the accused to not have any weapons while out on bond. We see in most domestic violence cases, if the person is not represented at First Appearance, that the Judge will issue a No Contact provision and Stay Away Order. This means that once the person is released, they are not allowed in many cases return to their home, or speak to the parent of their child or their husband or wife. This is something that in most cases can be avoided through proper investigation and preparation for a bond hearing.

What is the potential punishment for Family Violence Case in Clayton County?

            The punishment for a family violence case is codified at O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23.1 and the maximum penalty is the same across the State of Georgia. On a first conviction for Family Violence Battery, there is a maximum penalty of 12 months in custody and a $1,000 fine. Keep in mind, that the maximum penalty can be greatly increased based on what the State charges via the Accusation. For example, if there is one count of Family Violence Battery, one count of Simple Assault, and one count of Disorderly Conduct, and the charges all based on different conduct, the maximum penalty in that case would be three years to serve. 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.   

While a first lifetime conviction of Family Violence Battery appears to be just a misdemeanor, there are several collateral 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. This is a permanent forfeiture of your ability to carry a weapon.

In addition, while the maximum includes 12 months in custody and a $1,000 fine, many Judges throughout the State will require individuals convicted of Family Violence Battery to serve time on probation in lieu of jail time, 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.

Keep in mind: an arrest is NOT a conviction. Just because you have been arrested for Family Violence in Clayton County or any county in the State, does NOT mean you will be ultimately convicted, and have to face the criminal history implications and criminal punishment. As in all criminal cases, there are numerous defenses and options to resolve cases short of a guilty plea!

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.

Georgia Criminal Law – Family Violence Battery in Fulton County

A conviction for Family Violence Battery in Georgia can have consequences that go far beyond a conviction for other misdemeanors.   For some clients, this is their first interaction with law enforcement and their concerns include: jail time, a permanent mark on their criminal history, and the possibility of trial.   All of these concerns are very real when facing Family Violence Battery charges. This is especially true when charged with Family Violence Battery in Fulton County. This article aims to explain the nature of the offense, punishments, and how these cases are handled within Fulton County.

The Offense

Georgia Criminal Code § 16-5-23.1 defines domestic violence (named “battery – family violence”) as whenever a battery, an intentional physical harm or visible bodily harm, is committed against “past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.”

Therefore, in order to be charged with Family Violence Battery, the alleged victim must be within a certain relationship of the defendant:

  • A spouse
  • Persons who are parents of the same child
  • Children
  • Step-Children
  • Foster Children
  • Other persons living in the same household (roommates)

Punishment

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 collateral consequences unknown to most people.  For example, because Georgia’s classification of Family Violence Battery falls within the Federal definition of “domestic violence,” a Georgia citizen who is convicted of Family Violence Battery is prohibited from possessing a firearm under Federal Law.

Furthermore, while the maximum penalty includes 12 months in custody and a $1,000 fine, many judges throughout the State will also 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 (usually Domestic Violence Intervention Program – DVIP), but they generally include 24 weeks of classes, counseling, and program fees that are not included in the fine ordered by the judge.  In addition, judges can add community service, counseling requirements, fines, and alcohol and drug evaluations.  It is important to know that your attorney can negotiate all of these things.

How it Works in Fulton

The first step after arrest is getting a bond. If charged with misdemeanor Family Violence Battery, the law provides you shall be given a bond (in all misdemeanor cases).  But, in addition to having to pay bail money to bond out, the judge will also typically impose a No Contact provision as a condition of your pre-trial release. For example, in a case where a husband is accused of battering his wife, and the couple have minor children who live with them, a judge will usually order the defendant to have No Contact with the wife (alleged victim), the children, and be prevented from returning to the shared home. This No Contact provision places a great burden and strain on the accused as a violation of this bond condition (any form of contact, direct or indirect) can land the accused person in custody until the case is resolved. Therefore, the accused has to find alternative living arrangements and be estranged from their family.

As a result, our office routinely files a Motion to Modify Bond Conditions to change the No Contact provision to No Violent or Harassing Contact. This will allow the accused to return home and have contact with the alleged victim and anyone else protected under the bond order; allowing the accused to return to some semblance of a normal lifestyle.

After arrest, a case file is created with the Fulton County Solicitor General’s Office. They are responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor cases within Fulton County. At first, the case will be “unaccused.” This simply means that no accusation has yet been filed on the case. An accusation is the official charging document for misdemeanors in Georgia. It is intended to provide notice to the accused of the charges, the dates of the offense, and information sufficient to place the defendant on notice of how to defend the case.

Once a prosecutor reviews the file and believes there is at least probable cause to proceed upon, the accusation is filed and the case is formally “accused.” At this point, the case is assigned to a particular prosecutor and negotiations may begin. It is possible to resolve the case in a pre-trial diversion program. Successful completion of this program (fines, classes, counseling, community service, etc.) will result in the dismissal of the charges. Eligibility is determined by (lack of a) criminal history and the facts of the case. If the case is accused and not eligible for a diversion program, the accused must begin preparing their case for a possible trial, subject to reaching some plea negotiation with the prosecutor. This includes investigating the case and gathering evidence. In our experience, Fulton County prosecutors are largely unwilling to outright dismiss Family Violence Battery charges. Therefore, defendants are typically confronted with deciding whether to take a no jail time plea deal to Family Violence Battery or proceed to trial.

Fulton County State Court prosecutors will often include multiple counts of Battery, Simple Battery, and Family Violence Battery within the 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.

Contact Us

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.

DeKalb County Georgia Criminal Law – Family Violence Battery in DeKalb County

A conviction for Family Violence Battery in Georgia can have consequences that go far beyond a conviction for other misdemeanors.   For some clients, this is their first interaction with law enforcement and their concerns include: jail time, a permanent mark on their criminal history , and the possibility of trial.   All of these concerns are very real when facing Family Violence Battery charges. This is especially true when charged with Family Violence Battery in DeKalb County. This jurisdiction has specifically allocated money and resources in aggressively prosecuting domestic violence charges.  This article aims to explain the nature of the offense, punishments, and how these cases are handled within DeKalb County.

The Offense

Georgia Criminal Code § 16-5-23.1 defines domestic violence (named “battery – family violence”) as whenever a battery, an intentional physical harm or visible bodily harm, is committed against “past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.”

Therefore, in order to be charged with Family Violence Battery, the alleged victim must be within a certain relationship of the defendant:

  • A spouse
  • Persons who are parents of the same child
  • Children
  • Step-Children
  • Foster Children
  • Other persons living in the same household (roommates)

Punishment

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 collateral consequences unknown to most people.  For example, because Georgia’s classification of Family Violence Battery falls within the Federal definition of “domestic violence,” a Georgia citizen who is convicted of Family Violence Battery is prohibited from possessing a firearm under Federal Law.

Furthermore, while the maximum penalty includes 12 months in custody and a $1,000 fine, many judges throughout the State will also 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 (usually Domestic Violence Intervention Program – DVIP), but they generally include 24 weeks of classes, counseling, and program fees that are not included in the fine ordered by the judge.  In addition, judges can add community service, counseling requirements, fines, and alcohol and drug evaluations.  It is important to know that your attorney can negotiate all of these things.

How it Works in DeKalb

The first step after arrest is getting a bond. If charged with misdemeanor Family Violence Battery, the law provides you shall be given a bond (in all misdemeanor cases).  But, in addition to having to pay bail money to bond out, the judge will also typically impose a No Contact provision as a condition of your pre-trial release. For example, in a case where a husband is accused of battering his wife, and the couple have minor children who live with them, a judge will usually order the defendant to have No Contact with the wife (alleged victim), the children, and be prevented from returning to the shared home. This No Contact provision places a great burden and strain on the accused as a violation of this bond condition (any form of contact, direct or indirect) can land the accused person in custody until the case is resolved. Therefore, the accused has to find alternative living arrangements and be estranged from their family.

As a result, our office routinely files a Motion to Modify Bond Conditions to change the No Contact provision to No Violent or Harassing Contact. This will allow the accused to return home and have contact with the alleged victim and anyone else protected under the bond order; allowing the accused to return to some semblance of a normal lifestyle.

After arrest, a case file is created with the DeKalb County Solicitor General’s Office. They are responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor cases within DeKalb County. At first, the case will be “unaccused.” This simply means that no accusation has yet been filed on the case. An accusation is the official charging document for misdemeanors in Georgia. It is intended to provide notice to the accused of the charges, the dates of the offense, and information sufficient to place the defendant on notice of how to defend the case. In DeKalb, an unaccused case is represented by an “S” case number. It is important to note in DeKalb, unaccused cases are still scheduled for an arraignment date. If the case remains unaccused by the time arraignment is scheduled, the case will automatically be continued by the Clerk’s Office. If the case, however, is accused by the time of the arraignment date, the accused will be expected to appear in court and enter a plea to the charges. An experienced attorney should periodically check to see whether the case has been accused prior to arraignment.

It is possible to resolve a Family Violence Battery charge prior to the filing of an accusation. Attorneys should contact the Solicitor General’s Office to see if they are eligible to be admitted into the DeKalb County Domestic Violence Pre-Trial Intervention Program. If the accused successfully completes the DVPTI program, their charges will be dismissed with their records restricted.

Once a prosecutor reviews the file and believes there is at least probable cause to proceed upon, the accusation is filed and the case is formally “accused.” This is indicated by a “C” case number. If accused and not eligible for DVPTI, the accused must begin preparing their case for a possible trial, subject to reaching a plea negotiation with the prosecutor. This includes investigating the case and gathering evidence. In our experience, DeKalb County prosecutors are largely unwilling to outright dismiss Family Violence Battery charges. Therefore, defendants are typically confronted with deciding whether to take a no jail time plea deal to Family Violence Battery or proceed to trial.

DeKalb County State Court prosecutors will often include multiple counts of Battery, Simple Battery, and Family Violence Battery within the 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.

Contact Us

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.

Battery – Family Violence in Georgia

If you or a loved one is arrested for Family Violence Battery in Georgia, it is important that you act immediately to protect yourself. Do not wait until your court date to get an attorney and to preserve evidence. 

Georgia Criminal Code § 16-5-23.1 defines domestic violence as whenever a battery, an intentional physical harm or visible bodily harm, is committed against “past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.”

Punishment

First Conviction: Upon a first conviction of family violence battery, the defendant shall be guilty of and punished for a misdemeanor, a jail sentence can be imposed of up to twelve months and courts will require defendant’s to take a 24 week Family Violence Intervention Program throughout probation. 

Second Conviction: A second or subsequent conviction of family violence battery against the same or another victim, the defendant shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.

There are also immigration concerns if you are not a U.S. Citizen. 

It should be noted, domestic violence is a “deportable” offense, if you are not a U.S. citizen and are convicted it can lead to serious immigration consequence.

Do not think that just because you are innocent that the charges will be dismissed. Family Violence Battery charges are aggressively prosecuted in Georgia. 

Here is what you should do if arrested for Family Violence Battery in Georgia. 

  1. Hire an attorney – Make sure that attorney actually handles and tries Family Violence Battery cases.  Make sure the attorney you talk to does regularly handles Family Violence Battery cases in Georgia. 
  2. Avoid making any statements – Do not walk into the police department and profess your innocence. The police will not believe you. Do not think you can show up at your first court date and tell the prosecutor and judge that you are innocent and expect the charges to be
    dropped. If you are arrested for Family Violence Battery, you have to start preparing
    for your jury trial. Do not make any statements to anyone except your lawyer. 
  3. Gather and preserve any physical evidence in your possession that might relate to the person making the accusation. This includes clothing, photos, video or any other tangible object.
  4. Gather and preserve any documents that might relate to this accusation including emails, texts, social media, phone records, GPS records, computer records or any other document that might show where you were when this incident allegedly occurred. 
  5. Witnesses – Immediately make a list of any person who you think might have information about this Family Violence Battery accusation.Do not discuss the case with this person but pass this list of potential witnesses to your attorney and let your attorney contact them. 

Here is what you should never do if arrested for Family Violence Battery in Georgia

  1. Never talk to the alleged victim or the family.
  2. Never have any contact with the alleged victim
    through a 3rd party or through social media.
  3. Never talk to law enforcement without an
    attorney present.

If you are arrested for Family Violence Battery in Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Dekalb, Clayton or any other county in the metro Atlanta area, please call our office 24/7 at 404-581-0999. We will sit down with you and fully discuss your case and what to expect in court. There is no charge for this consultation. You will only retain us if you feel we are the best law firm to represent you. It is your life so you need to hire the lawyer that you feel gives you the best chance to win your case.