Those accused of a family violence offense are at risk of state-level and federal penalties related to those accusations. While the prosecution will likely occur at the state level, Georgia state laws and federal rules impose specific penalties for family violence offenses. The penalties you face range from incarceration to a loss of your future firearm ownership rights.
To properly defend yourself against pending criminal accusations, you first need to understand the nature of the alleged offense and how the state will build its case. What kinds of behavior constitute family violence offenses under federal law?
Domestic violence and even stalking might constitute family violence
When people talk about family violence, they often mean intimate partner violence or spousal abuse. One person physically or sexually abusing their spouse or romantic partner is likely an act of family violence.
However, the definition is actually broader than people realize. Family violence allegations can also arise when someone abuses or mistreats their children. In fact, roommates who have no biological or romantic connection to the alleged offender can also be the source of family violence offenses.
A physical assault isn’t the only action that can lead to charges. Threats and stalking may also be a form of family violence. Behavior aimed at controlling or frightening housemates, a family member or an intimate partner may lead to charges too.
Family violence accusations require an assertive response
When compared with violent assaults on a stranger or a criminal act involving a weapon, a family violence offense may seem less serious. Those accused might even assume that the alleged victim will testify on their behalf.
However, family violence cases often rely on outside evidence because victims often recant or won’t cooperate. Statistically, such violence tends to get worse over time, which is one reason why federal and state lawmakers imposed strict penalties for such offenses.
Someone accused of a family violence offense will face more than just criminal penalties fines, jail time and possible incarceration. They could lose their right to own firearms and possibly their job or housing because of their recent criminal charges. A guilty plea, even if it is a plea to a lesser charge, may still trigger the same life-altering penalties a defendant would face if convicted in court.
Recognizing when the charges against you may become more complex because they relate to family violence and help you better prepare to protect yourself in the Georgia criminal justice system.