Every year, domestic violence causes more than 1,300 deaths and two-million injuries. Almost three in 10 women, and one in 10 men, will experience some type of domestic violence in their lifetime. As a result of the staggering domestic violence statistics across America, many states, including Georgia, impose harsh penalties for domestic violence crimes committed through verbal, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
If someone has accused you of committing a domestic violence crime in Georgia, it is important to act quickly to protect your personal freedoms. Contact an experienced domestic abuse criminal defense attorney right away.
Below are some of the penalties associated with a conviction for a domestic violence crime in Georgia.
1. Jail Time and Its Consequences
A first-time domestic violence offense is often charged as a misdemeanor. Under Georgia law, a first conviction can lead to up to 12 months in jail. Subsequent domestic violence convictions, whether they involve the same or a different victim, can lead to significantly longer time in jail. The state may prosecute a second domestic violence offense as a felony, for example, a conviction for which can lead to up to five years in jail.
Jail time, for many perpetrators of domestic violence, can carry with it other harsh consequences. Not only must you remain in jail for that period of time, you may also:
- Lose your job. Many employers will not hold a job for an employee jailed on domestic violence charges, especially if you face long-term incarceration.
- Lose relationships. When in jail, you cannot interact freely with friends and family members. As a result, relationships may suffer substantially.
- Lose your home and have difficulty finding a place to live after release. Many people find it difficult to continue paying rent or mortgage payments while in jail. As a result, being jailed for a domestic violence conviction can lead to you losing your home. This can also make life difficult when you are released from jail.
Under Georgia law, conviction for a misdemeanor can also in up to $1,000 in fines. Subsequent offenses, particularly if charged as felonies, can result in far higher fines. These fines can cause significant financial hardship, particularly under circumstances in which you may find it difficult to hold a job.
3. Difficulty Seeking Future Employment
Domestic violence, by its nature, constitutes a violent crime. A conviction for that sort of crime can wreak havoc on your employment prospects.
Many employers do not want to hire employees with a history of any type of violence, including domestic violence. They may reject your application out of hand, without even waiting to hear your side of the story—even if there are extenuating circumstances that might have contributed to your conviction.
Your current employer may also feel compelled to put you on unpaid leave if you face accusations of domestic violence. A conviction may lead to you getting fired.
Jail time, especially extended jail time for a second or subsequent domestic violence offense, can also leave a significant gap in your employment record and training, which you then must explain to any potential employer.
4. Family Violence Protective Orders
A Family Violence Protective Order restricts contact between the perpetrator of domestic violence and the perceived victim or victims. While intended to help the victim of domestic violence, a Family Violence Protective Order can also cause substantial hardship for the perpetrator of domestic violence.
People subject to a Family Violence Protective Order may have to vacate their homes and may lose the ability to have contact with their spouse and/or children. In some cases, the protective order may require you to provide alternative housing for your spouse and children, stretching your finances substantially.
A Family Violence Protection Order also often awards custody of any children involved in the relationship to the perceived victim, regardless of whether the children were direct victims of the alleged violence. If you face a Family Violence Protection Order, you may have your parental rights severely restricted while still having to pay child support or spousal support.
5. Destroyed Family and Friend Relationships
Often, domestic violence charges destroy families. If convicted, you may lose your relationship with your children, potentially permanently. Even after you have served your jail sentence or paid restitution for your crimes, you may struggle to rebuild those relationships. You may also struggle with relationships with other family members, particularly if you face jail time that limits your ability to interact with the people you care about.
A domestic violence conviction will, in most cases, result in you being placed on probation, which subjects you to a variety of limitations on your daily life activities. While probation seems like a minor consequence, it can significantly interfere with your day-to-day. Probation restrictions can control aspects of your life such as the places you can visit, the people you can interact with, and the beverages and substances you can consume. Any violation of probation, including actions as seemingly minor as failing to check in with your probation officer at a scheduled time, can result in immediate legal consequences. If you commit a crime while on probation, you may face enhanced penalties.
Seek Legal Help for Domestic Violence Charges in Georgia
Dealing with domestic violence charges can leave you in the middle of a stressful situation that can change your entire life, even without ever having been convicted. You need a strong advocate for your legal rights and interests. Finding and hiring an experienced domestic violence criminal defense attorney is critical.
The right defense attorney can make a major impact on your future by negotiating reduced charges or sentencing recommendations, helping you navigate the limitations of protective orders, and even arguing your innocence at trial.
The most important thing to do is to contact a Georgia domestic violence defense attorney right away as soon as you learn of an accusation against you. Do not wait, and do not speak with anyone about the charges without an attorney present. Your future depends on it.