Domestic Violence is defined in Ohio as “knowingly caus[ing] or attempt[ing] to cause physical harm to a family or household member.” Unfortunately, many people have faced charges like this. Cases are often charged as domestic violence because the definition is so broad. Although it is begins as a misdemeanor offense it can have very dangerous consequences. Besides the possibility of jail time there are two other penalties that have long lasting consequences: Effect on Sealing and Enhancebility.
If you are convicted of Domestic Violence it cannot be sealed. Regardless of how long ago it was, a conviction for Domestic Violence can never be sealed. There is an exception to this that I’ll discuss later. Once you have a conviction of Domestic Violence any time that you’re charged with another Domestic Violence automatically makes it a felony. That means that even if the harm done was minimal, as a mere scratch or even a shove or push you’re stuck fighting a felony.
In order to prove Domestic Violence the Government has to show two things: that there was physical harm, and that it was done to a household or family member. Physical Harm is decided by the “trier of fact”, meaning either the judge (in a bench trial) or a jury (in a jury trial). The Government will try to convince the judge or jury that whatever harm was suffered should be considered physical harm, while the defense will argue the opposite. I’ve seen many actions interpreted as physical harm, from something as serious as gunshot wounds to throwing beer on someone’s hair.
The Government also has to prove that the person who suffered the harm was a “family or household member”. This is defined in the law as a spouse, person living as a spouse, former spouse, parent, foster parent, child of the offender, anyone else related by consanguinity or affinity to the offender, natural parent of any child of whom the offender is the other natural parent, or anyone who was living with the offender within five years prior to the date of the alleged commission of the act in question. So, a family or household member can be anyone from a girlfriend, to a cousin, to a babymama, or a roommate.
Defense attorneys have a variety of tools at their disposal to combat these charges. Aside from winning at trial, defendants may plead to other less damning offenses such as assault, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, or Domestic Violence – Misdemeanor of the 4th Degreee (DVM4). A DVM4 may be an appropriate resolution because unlike a regular Domestic Violence, this charge is sealable.
The penalties for Domestic Violence could include jail time, a harsh permanent mark on your record, and the danger of increasing felony charges in the future. If you have questions about Domestic Violence charges feel free to call me at 216-200-6765.