Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Charges Portage County and Summit County

The police aggressively pursue Domestic Violence charges even when there is no physical evidence that a crime of Domestic Violence occurred. All the police need to make an arrest is an oral statement of a family or household member or alledged victim. No visible injuries are required.

Arrest for Domestic Violence May be Required

Many Ohio police departments have interpreted the Domestic Violence law to mean that they must arrest and charge someone any time they are called out to a domestic dispute, even if the person calling the police was a neighbor or a non-involved party.

Domestic Violence “Victims" Cannot Drop the Charges

Once you are arrested or charged with Domestic Violence, the victim no longer controls the decisions in the case. Prosecuting Attorneys have that authority. Domestic Violence prosecutors in Portage County and Summit County routinely pursue charges regardless of the wishes of the complaining witness or victim.

Fifth Amendment Right Not to Testify

Often prosecuting attorneys will threaten Domestic Violence victims with prosecution if they do not testify. In situations where all or part of the victim’s statement is false, the victim may be able to invoke their Right Not to Testify under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution in order to avoid being charged with Falsification or Perjury. This occurs when a prosecutor subpoenas a “victim” into court in an attempt to force them to testify in conformity with what is in the police report.

Protection Orders in Domestic Violence Cases

If you have been served with a court order forbidding you to contact the victim in a Domestic Violence case, it is extremely important that you strictly obey the terms of that protection order. This means no contact of any sort, including telephone calls, text messages, emails, online posts, letters, cards etc...

Violating Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Even the slightest violation of a domestic Violence protection order may trigger a bond revocation and/or lend to additional criminal charges, such as Violation of a Protection Order or Victim/Witness Intimidation. This is true even if the victim condones or consents to the contact to the contact.

Legal Definition of Domestic Violence

In Ohio, domestic violence is generally defined as knowingly causing, or attempting to cause, physical harm to a family or household member. The Ohio Revised Code defines "family or household member" as any of the following who is residing, or has resided, with the offender:

  • A spouse, a person living as a spouse, or a former spouse of the offender.
  • A parent, a foster parent, or a child of the offender, or another person related by consanguinity or affinity to the offender.
  • A parent or a child of a spouse, person living as a spouse, or former spouse of the offender. The natural parent of any child of whom the offender is the other natural parent or is the putative other natural parent (regardless of whether that person resides or has resided with the offender).

Levels of Domestic Violence Charges under Ohio law

A First Degree Misdemeanor Domestic Violence charge results from knowingly causing, or attempting to cause, physical harm to a victim who meets the statutory definition of family or household member OR recklessly causing serious physical harm to a family or household member.

A Fourth Degree Misdemeanor Domestic Violence charge results from causing a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.

A Felony Domestic Violence results when the offender previously has pleaded guilty to, or been convicted of Domestic Violence. In other words, if you have a Domestic Violence on your record, every future Domestic Violence charge becomes a felony. You can only imagine the opportunity for abuse of the legal system this gives a family or household member over someone with a prior Domestic Violence conviction. Certain felony Domestic Violence charges can carry mandatory prison sentences

Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction

Even first time Domestic Violence offenders face harsh penalties and punishment if convicted. In Ohio, a first time conviction for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge can result in:

    • Jail time, community work service.
    • Domestic Violence classes (for an extended period of time).
    • Probation.
    • Prohibitions against owning or possessing a firearm (and a possible lifetime ban under federal law).
    • Alcohol and/or drug treatment.
    • Court ordered parenting classes.
    • Hundreds of dollars in fines, court costs and counseling fees.
    • Paying for the victim's medical expenses, counseling or other expenses resulting from the offense.
    • All subsequent Domestic Violence charges becoming automatic felonies.

Felony Domestic Violence charges can result in prison time in addition to the penalties and punishment listed above.

Critical Mistakes in Domestic Violence Cases

In Domestic Violence cases, there are almost always two sides of the story. One of the worst mistakes an accused person can make is to attempt to convey his/her “side of the story” to the police or prosecutor. Doing so will certainly damage your case.

Disclaimer

The ohiocrimelawyer.com website is designed for general information only. Any information on this site is not to be construed as formal legal advice from a criminal defense lawyer, a DUI lawyer, a family law lawyer or wills, probate, trusts and estate planning lawyer, nor formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Persons accessing this site are encouraged to seek personal advice regarding their individual legal issues.

The attorneys in our law firm primarily service Portage County courts (Ravenna and Kent), and Summit County courts (Akron, Stow, Barberton). Cases in all other courts in North East Ohio, including Cuyahoga County courts (Cleveland, Garfield Heights, Bedford, Parma, Rocky River etc...) are handled under specific terms and conditions.