Atlanta domestic assault and battery attorney David Schnipper gets results for his clients in difficult situations. Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse or family violence, is abusive behavior by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation. Many people incorrectly assume that domestic violence can occur only between spouses or partners, but in fact, it can be committed against any member of a household, including a parent, grandparent, sibling, or child. An accusation of domestic violence is perhaps one of the violent crimes where it is most essential to involve an experienced attorney with an understanding of Georgia domestic violence law as soon as possible. Attorney David Schnipper is a skilled domestic violence defense attorney Atlanta and will help protect your rights.
Domestic violence accusations can have consequences from the moment they are made. In fact, unlike with most other crimes, law enforcement officers often initiate formal investigations of domestic violence after a one person makes a report of violence or threats, without requiring corroborating evidence or witnesses. A resentful spouse or angry significant other can make a single accusation that sparks an investigation that can turn your life upside down. It is important to remember that domestic violence accusations can be made not just by a family member, but by any member of a household, and can often be made in the heat of the moment.
Many police officers feel that domestic violence situations are very dangerous both for the officers themselves and for at least one of the parties involved. Typically, when officers are called to a home after a report of domestic violence, they will arrest one individual in the home, based mostly on an accusation and with little investigation.
A conviction for domestic abuse can affect every aspect of your life, including your closest relationships, child custody or visitation, career, and standing in the community. Georgia takes domestic violence very seriously. According to statistics from the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 149 Georgians died from domestic violence in 2017, the highest number of domestic violence deaths since 2003. Georgia remains in the top 15 states in the U.S. for domestic violence deaths.
For many people, domestic abuse is a tragic reality. However, false accusations of domestic violence can also be used to gain leverage in contentious relationships. If you have been accused of domestic violence, then you need the Atlanta domestic violence firm of Schnipper Law to protect your rights.
Georgia Law on Domestic Abuse
Georgia law defines domestic violence as an act of family violence, which means any commission of a “battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, criminal trespass, or any felony” committed between persons as outlined in the law.
The law covers various categories of relationships. These include “spouses or former spouses, parents and children, persons who are parents of the same child, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, and people who live or formerly lived in the same household.”
As the definition suggests, domestic abuse can take many forms, and the law is intended to protect persons in all types of family relationships. You don’t have to be married to someone in order to be a victim of domestic violence in Georgia. Also, domestic violence does not necessarily have to occur in the home. As long as one member of the household is committing a violent act against another member of the same household, it can be considered domestic violence.
However, the law expressly excludes a parent administering “reasonable discipline” to a child, in the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention.
Family Violence Protective Orders and Violations of a Protective Order
A person who alleges an act of family violence may seek a protective order in superior court. The petition must contain specific facts. It must establish probable cause that family violence has occurred and will continue to occur unless the court issues a protective order. Even if the other party is absent, the Court may order a temporary protective order to protect the petitioner from violence. There will then be a hearing no later than 30 days after the filing of the petition. At that hearing, the petitioner will have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the facts alleged in the petition are true. A family violence protection order can, for example:
- Order the accused abuser to leave the victim alone
- Force the accused to leave the house, and the other party would remain in possession
- Require the accused abuser to provide alternate housing for the other party(s)
- Help the alleged victim obtain his or her personal property
- Award temporary custody to the accused abuser and set temporary visitation rights
- Order the accused abuser to pay temporary child support and/or spousal support
- Award court costs and attorney’s fees to either party
- Order counseling
If a person violates a restraining or protective order, he or she could be convicted of a misdemeanor, and/or charged with aggravated stalking.
Penalties for Domestic Abuse
Criminal offenses against family members typically carry more severe penalties than the same acts committed among persons who are not protected under the family violence laws. For instance, while a simple assault crime is a misdemeanor under Georgia law, a family violence simple assault is a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, meaning you can be punished more severely. Factors such as a history of domestic violence or prior offenses affect the severity of the penalty.
The collateral consequences of a domestic abuse conviction may also be overwhelming. Unforeseen consequences such as loss of employment, deportation, or loss of firearm permit can affect your career and your future. Some business licenses and professional accreditations may be subject to disciplinary action on the grounds that the conviction constitutes unprofessional conduct. For example, the Georgia State Bar may disbar an attorney convicted of domestic violence.
Defending a Domestic Abuse Charge
Domestic abuse cases are often “he said/she said” situations with little or no corroborating evidence. The first question in assessing a domestic abuse case is to determine whether the specific actions listed in the complaint fit the legal definition of domestic violence. If they do not, then the judge may throw the case out before it reaches the trial stage. It must also meet the jurisdictional requirements for the relationships that fall within the domestic violence law.
Self-defense is a valid defense against a domestic violence charge. If you reasonably believe you are in danger of bodily injury or harm, you are allowed to defend yourself. In certain circumstances, a person is also allowed to defend others. The issue in self-defense is whether equal force was used.
In criminal cases, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor, which must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction to take place. Witnesses who will testify for the accused or a verifiable alibi may lead to a dismissal.
Why You Need an Atlanta Domestic Abuse Lawyer
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you may be afraid of losing custody of your children or going to jail. A conviction of domestic violence may have a lifelong impact on you and your family.
Consulting an Atlanta domestic abuse lawyer is the first step towards fighting the charges. An experienced domestic abuse defense lawyer can carefully review the evidence, gather statements from experts and witnesses, and build a strong defense.
You need a lawyer who has a thorough understanding of the laws and the Georgia court system. Someone who will answer your questions, protect your rights, and explain your legal options in language you understand. At Schnipper law, our compassionate, experienced, and aggressive attorneys know how to defend you in a domestic violence case. For a free consultation, call (404) 545-5845 or contact us today.
Minimize Repercussions of a False Accusation
Unfortunately, while domestic violence is a real and tragic reality facing many people in Georgia and across the country, accusations of domestic violence can also be used as a way to gain the upper hand when a relationship is in an unstable state. Domestic violence accusations can become situations where one party’s word stands against the other party with little evidence. Atlanta domestic violence attorney David Schnipper can intervene quickly to make sure that a thorough investigation is conducted.
One of the most serious consequences of a domestic violence accusation, even before the case is prosecuted, is that the accused may be restrained from contact with their minor children. If two people are sharing a home and one is charged with domestic violence, he or she may not be able to go back to the home at all. A conviction for domestic violence can lead to a permanent loss of child custody, and denial or severe limitations on visitation.
Defending Against a Domestic Violence Charge in Atlanta and Its Surrounding Areas
Georgia courts take domestic violence charges very seriously. The government allocates substantial resources for aggressively prosecuting people charged with domestic violence, and unlike with many criminal charges, the prosecution will move forward even if the victim refuses to testify or no longer wants to press charges.
In addition to facing criminal charges, a person accused of domestic violence can be incarcerated, ordered to attend anger management classes or go to counseling, pay fines, or be put on probation.
Atlanta domestic assault attorney David Schnipper understands that being accused of domestic violence requires an attorney who is not only competent and thoroughly versed in investigating the complexities of a domestic violence case against his client, but who is also sensitive to the personal and emotional nature of the situation. At Schnipper Law, P.C., your case will not be passed off to an assistant or paralegal, but will be personally handled by skilled criminal defense Attorney Schnipper every step of the way. Attorney Schnipper is available to his clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provides you with his personal cell phone number. Schnipper Law, P.C. provides a small firm feel, yet brings significant legal resources, which is ideal for a client facing charges as personal in nature as domestic violence.