Like many states, Georgia has a series of laws to protect people from violence perpetrated by those closest to them. However, Georgia’s laws go further than most, classifying domestic violence statutes under the name “family violence” to safeguard all family members and intimate partners, not just spouses.
Whether between family members or those in a relationship, domestic violence can be classified as either a state or federal crime and, depending on the circumstances, can result in a misdemeanor or a felony conviction.
Georgia’s Definition of Domestic Violence
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) 19-13-1 defines family violence as occurring between 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. It can include one or more of the following acts:
- Any felony or the commission of offenses of battery
- Simple battery
- Simple assault
- Criminal damage to property
- Unlawful restraint
- Criminal trespass
Domestic violence carries a two-year statute of limitations for misdemeanor charges. Felony charges, resulting from major physical violence and/or threats carry a four-year statute of limitations.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence?
Any form of abuse against yourself or your children by a member of your household can be considered domestic violence. This can include anything from physical assaults (e.g. slapping, punching, forced sexual contact), economic assaults (e.g. theft, withholding money or preventing seeking employment) as well as psychological assaults (e.g. threats of harm, insults, or emotional abuse).
While this last category is not specifically recognized in the context of the law, they represent a means by which abusers maintain control, thus perpetuating other forms of abuse. The forms that are specifically mentioned in the law include:
- Simple battery: physical contact made intentionally to provoke, harm, or insult.
- Battery: contact made intentionally to cause physical harm.
- Simple assault: an attempt to violently injure another.
- Aggravated assault: an attempt made to kill, sexually assault, or rob another person using any kind of weapon.
- Aggravated battery: a malicious attempt to cause serious bodily harm, disfigurement, dismemberment, and immobility of normal human bodily functions.
- Stalking: surveillance, harassment, or contact with another intended to threaten.
- Kidnapping or unlawful restraint: attempting to keep someone from leaving their home or property through physical or psychological restraint.
- Criminal trespass: intentionally preventing another from full use of their own property or possessions.
- Criminal damage to property: damaging or completely destroying the property of another person, regardless of intention.
What are the Penalties Associated with These Crimes?
With various degrees of crimes under the banner of domestic violence, there are also wildly varying consequences. Naturally the fines and prison sentences increase based on the severity of the crime. Obviously, individual circumstances of both the crime and the trial can impact these consequences, but as a general rule you can expect the following:
- Simple battery: Up to 1 year in jail or longer depending on the case and circumstances of the case.
- Battery: Up to 1 year in jail or longer. Subsequent charges can lead to felony charges and a prison sentence of up to five years or more.
- Simple Assault: Jail time of up to 1 year or longer. A subsequent offense can lead to 5 or more years in jail.
Aggravated Assault: 1-20 years in jail depending on the circumstances of the case. Subsequent offenses usually lead to much longer jail sentences.
- Aggravated battery
No less than 1 year and up to 20 years in jail depending on the injuries and circumstances of the case.
- Stalking: Up to 1 to 10 years in jail depending on the circumstances of the case.
- Kidnapping or unlawful restraint: Depending on the circumstances of the case jail time can be 10-20 years or longer.
- Criminal trespass: Up to 1 year or longer depending on the circumstances of the case.
- Criminal damage to property: Up to 1 to 10 years in jail depending on the circumstances of the case.
- Violation of a Protective Order: Up to 1 year in jail, even if there are no other domestic violence convictions. This offense is typically reported by the subject of the order.
Additional Domestic Violence Consequences
Beyond the jail time and fines, consequences of a domestic violence conviction can include loss of employment or professional licensing, court-mandated anger management courses, adherence to a protective/restraining order and issues with any immigration or naturalization. It can also impact child custody rights and second amendment rights, plus it leaves a permanent mark on a criminal record.
This criminal record can cause lifelong challenges, which can’t be erased.
Domestic Violence Charges Can Be Dropped by the Victim
Please note that the person that experienced the domestic violence cannot ask the police or prosecution to drop the charges, change the story, or retract the charges.
Under Georgia law, domestic violence conviction starts with charges filed by the prosecutor’s office. Because of this, that office is the only entity allowed to drop charges. The victim cannot. It is important to realize that an attorney can potentially prevent domestic violence charges from sticking or being filed to begin with if they get involved right after the incident. Defense attorneys can present evidence, file motions, and convince the opposing side that the charges are unjust and have no merit.
How Can Busbee Law Group Help?
It’s important to know that domestic violence charges do not necessarily mean guilt, and do not always lead to a conviction. Your attorney can prove that the state has misinterpreted the situation, whether demonstrating that the incident in question was an accident or was a matter of self-defense, or that the accuser was lying or injured through some other means. The Busbee Law Group is known for having domestic violence charges reduced and dismissed by being better prepared than the other side and presenting a better story to a jury or judge to regain your freedom and dignity.
Take control back of your life and your future by scheduling a free, no-obligation case evaluation.