Mason, OH Domestic Violence Attorneys

The term “domestic violence” is loaded. For many people, once an allegation of domestic violence has been made, that person is as good as guilty. Yet we know that there are many reasons why a person may be charged with domestic violence — including false allegations to gain a more favorable position in a divorce or child custody case.

In the state of Ohio, a conviction for domestic violence can result in jail time, fines, loss of gun rights, and more. It also will be part of your permanent criminal record. If you have been charged with domestic violence, you need a Mason, OH domestic violence attorney who understands how these cases are prosecuted — and who will fight to protect your rights and freedom.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Under Ohio law, domestic violence is defined as:

  • Knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to a family or household member;
  • Recklessly causing serious physical harm to a family or household member; or
  • Knowingly cause a family or household member to believe that they will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member, by threat of force.

For the purposes of Ohio’s domestic violence law, a family or household member includes any of the following people who either live with or lived with the person accused of domestic violence:

  • A spouse, former spouse, or person living as a spouse;
  • A parent, foster parent, or child, or another person related by blood or marriage;
  • A parent or child of a spouse, former spouse, or person living as a spouse, or a person related by blood or marriage to a current or former spouse.

In addition, a person who shares a child with the accused is considered a family or household member, regardless of whether they have ever lived together.

Physical harm includes any injury, illness, or other physiological impairment, regardless of how serious it is or how long it lasts. Serious physical harm includes (1) any mental illness or grave condition that would typically require hospitalization or prolonged psychiatric treatment; (2) any physical harm that carries a substantial risk of death; (3) any physical harm that involves some degree of permanent incapacity or a temporary, substantial incapacity; (4) any physical harm that results in some permeant disfigurement or temporary, serious disfigurement; or (5) any physical harm that involves acute pain that lasts long enough to result in substantial suffering or that involves any degree of prolonged or intractable pain.

These definitions are broad, which means that domestic violence charges can be filed even in situations where the alleged victim suffered a minor, temporary injury, such as a bruise or red marks. Because there are a number of serious consequences associated with a domestic violence conviction, it is vital to consult with a skilled criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after being charged with this type of offense.

Potential Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction

The penalties for domestic violence can be incredibly serious. The consequences are based on the severity of the charge as well as the individual’s criminal history, as follows:

  • First degree misdemeanor: Knowingly or recklessly causing or attempting to cause serious physical harm. This charge is elevated to a fourth degree felony if the accused has a prior domestic violence conviction. For multiple prior domestic violence convictions, the charge becomes a third degree felony.
  • Fourth degree misdemeanor: By threat of force, knowingly causing a family or household member to believe that they will cause imminent physical harm. This charge is elevated to a second degree misdemeanor if the accused has a prior domestic violence conviction. For multiple prior domestic violence convictions, the charge becomes a first degree misdemeanor.
  • Mandatory prison term: If the accused knew or had reason to know that the victim was pregnant at the time, then the court must impose a mandatory prison term, and the charge is increased.

Based on how the crime is charged, domestic violence may be punished by anywhere from a jail term of up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $1,000 (first degree misdemeanors) to up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 (third degree felony).

Beyond consequences imposed by a court, a domestic violence conviction can affect your life in a number of ways. It may prevent you from owning a firearm under federal law, result in the loss of your job and/or your professional license, and it may even lead to immigration consequences if you are not a citizen of the United States. Domestic violence convictions may also impact a custody case.

The Role of Protection Orders

Individuals who allege that they have suffered certain abuse may seek a protection order, which may also be referred to as a restraining order. Under Ohio law, protection orders can be issued by a court where there is an allegation of domestic violence, stalking, a sexual offense, or other alleged criminal conduct. A person does not have to be charged with a crime to be subject to a protection order.

There are five types of protection orders available in Ohio:

  1. Civil Protection Orders are issued by Domestic Relations Court in response to allegations of domestic violence cases.
  2. Juvenile Civil Protection Orders are issued by the Juvenile division of the Common Pleas court in response to allegations involving assault, menacing, stalking, trespass, or a sexually oriented offense committed by a juvenile.
  3. Temporary Protection Orders are typically issued ex parte, which means that the court has only heard from one side. A full hearing on the protection order is usually scheduled with ten days.
  4. Civil Stalking Protection Orders and Civil Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Orders are issued by the Common Pleas court in situations where there has been an allegation of stalking or a sexually oriented offense.
  5. Criminal Protection Orders are issued by the criminal courts where any violent, menacing, or trespassing charges have been filed against someone who is not a family or household member.

A violation of a protection order is a crime, which can lead to jail time. In some cases, an allegation of a violation — even if unproven — can lead to jail time as a result of Ohio’s “preferred arrest” law. Under this law, arrest is the “preferred course of action” for law enforcement officers when they have reasonable cause to believe that someone has committed the office of domestic violence or has violated a vivil or criminal protection order.

In addition, a person who is subject to a protection order may be prohibited from carrying firearms under federal law. Having a protection order against you may also impact any current or future custody case.

Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges

Given statistics on domestic violence in Ohio and across the country, police and prosecutors often come down hard on people accused of this offense. However, just because a person has been accused of domestic violence does not mean that they are guilty of the charges against them. Depending on the facts of the case, there are a number of potential factual and legal defenses to these charges.

For example, a current or former romantic partner may make false allegations of domestic violence, perhaps for revenge or to gain an advantage in a family law case. In these situations, your lawyer can thoroughly investigate the claims and put together evidence to show that you have not committed this crime.

In other situations, you may be accused of domestic violence even if you did not intend to hurt or threaten anyone. Under Ohio law, you must have acted knowingly or recklessly in order to be charged with domestic violence. If you did something stupid or rash, but without an intent to hurt anyone (such as throwing a glass down on the ground in frustration, which then led to a partner being cut by the broken glass), your attorney may be able to argue that the charge should be reduced or dismissed entirely.

Sometimes, Ohio domestic violence accusations arise from situations where the alleged victim provoked the fight, and the accused acted in self defense. For example, if a victim started to throw things at her ex husband, and he grabbed her to stop her from throwing stuff, he may be able to argue that he was acting in self defense.

At Engel & Martin, our attorneys have the experience that is necessary to effectively represent individuals facing allegations of domestic violence. Our law firm’s founding partners, Joshua Adam Engel and Mary K. Martin, are both former prosecutors who have handled hundreds of domestic violence cases, first as prosecutors, and now as criminal defense attorneys.

In one significant case involving a protection order violation, State v. Fernbach, Joshua Engel argued before the Ohio Court of Appeals on sentencing issues for a person found guilty of violating a protection order while in jail on felony domestic violence charges. Joshua Engel served on the Ohio Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence, where he helped revise the protection order forms used in every Ohio courthouse. Engel is a frequent speaker on domestic violence and protection order issues, including presentations to conferences sponsored by the Ohio Attorney General, the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys’ Association, and D.A.R.E.

Facing Domestic Violence Charges? We Can Help.

Domestic violence charges are serious. If you have been charged with domestic violence in Ohio, you may be facing time in jail, a steep fine, and a host of other consequences. That is why it is so important to work with a seasoned Mason, OH domestic violence attorney.

At Engel & Martin, we aggressively advocate for each of our clients, whether they have been charged with domestic violence or any other Ohio criminal offense. We use our experience and knowledge of Ohio criminal law to obtain the best possible results for you. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a member of our team, call us at 513-445-9600 or email us at any time.

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