If you've been accused of domestic violence, you're in a difficult situation. Your reputation and character have already been damaged, as most people in your community will assume you're guilty until proven innocent. It doesn't matter if the accusations are baseless or if the police arrested the wrong person.
This is unfair - you haven't even had a chance to defend yourself yet - but it's the reality of the situation.
Let's summarize some of the consequences of being accused of DV:
- Being arrested: Nearly all domestic violence charges begin with an arrest, followed by time in jail until you appear before a judge.
- Missing work: If you're detained, you may miss work and suffer occupational consequences.
- Damage to your reputation
- A temporary restraining order (TRO) being issued against you
- Your ability to possess a firearm is restricted
It's important to aggressively fight accusations of domestic violence, because the consequences of a conviction are much more severe than what you're now experiencing.
Direct Consequences Of A Domestic Violence Conviction
A domestic violence conviction brings two sets of punishment to the accused. First, the Ohio Revised Code sets out the criminal penalties for domestic violence convictions. Second, additional punishments known as collateral consequences are often more impactful than sentences and fines.
If you're convicted of domestic violence for the first time, you usually face a first-degree misdemeanor, although there are rare situations where a fourth-degree misdemeanor applies instead. You face a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If the alleged victim was pregnant and you knew about the pregnancy, you can be charged with a felony and the penalties are much more severe.
If you have a previous conviction for domestic violence or similar crimes pertaining to DV, you're facing a fourth-degree felony. This brings a prison sentence of six to 18 months and a maximum fine of $5,000. If the alleged victim was pregnant, the defendant must serve a maximum sentence.
If you have two or more convictions for prior offenses related to domestic violence, you face a third-degree felony and a maximum prison sentence of five years and a $10,000 fine.
If convicted, an injunction will likely be issued, preventing you from contacting the DV victim. Probation is another potential consequence of a DV conviction. A judge may also order you to undergo anger management or alcohol/drug abuse counseling.
Although the criminal penalties listed above are severe, it's often the collateral consequences that are most impactful on those convicted of domestic violence.
Collateral Consequences Of A DV Conviction
While jail/prison sentences and fines may be severe, collateral consequences can have a profound and permanent effect on the defendant. Below, we have listed some of the collateral consequences of a domestic violence conviction in Ohio, including:
- Difficulty finding employment: Current or potential employers often avoid employing people with domestic violence convictions, especially when the job involves working with children, the elderly or disabled people. A conviction will also likely impact a career in the military or law enforcement.
- Restrictions on certain licenses: Certain professionals, like nurses and attorneys, have their character and background scrutinized when they apply for a license, as well as throughout their careers. A DV conviction greatly reduces your ability to obtain a license for these professions.
- Brady disqualifier: This prevents you from owning/possessing weapons.
- Child custody/visitation issues: A domestic violence conviction can have a detrimental impact on your relationship with your children.
- No possibility for expungement: Ohio has laws preventing the expungement of domestic violence convictions. It will remain on your record.
As you have learned, domestic violence charges may carry severe and lasting consequences. An experienced Butler County criminal defense attorney gives you the best chance of building a strong defense strategy and protecting your rights.
About Rittgers & Rittgers
Rittgers & Rittgers is a successful southern Ohio criminal defense firm. We represent defendants in a variety of felony and misdemeanor offenses, with an emphasis on domestic violence. To learn more about our criminal defense practice in Hamilton and Butler counties, visit us at www.rittgers.com.