The defense you want, the outcome you need.
free consultation here

Georgia Family Violence Laws 

In Georgia, domestic violence within families and households can come with criminal consequences. The state takes family violence seriously, and multiple criminal charges could apply involving firearm restrictions, enhanced criminal penalties, bail requirements, and the use of restraining or protective orders. If you are facing family violence allegations, it is important to understand Georgia family violence laws and what you are going up against.

If law enforcement officers and the prosecuting attorney hope to secure your conviction, they will need to prove the elements of the offense in question beyond a reasonable doubt. By introducing supporting evidence, such as a clear alibi or an alternative defense, you may be able to clear your name of the domestic violence charges against you. Here is more about how the Georgia criminal justice system handles family violence cases.

How Georgia Defines Family Violence

According to O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1, family violence offenses include certain types of misdemeanor and felony crimes that involve specific family or household members. These individuals could include:

  • Foster parents or children
  • Adoptive parents or children
  • Stepparents or children
  • Current or former spouses
  • Parents of children
  • Anyone who formally or currently lives in the same household

It is important to know that family violence does not apply to individuals who never live together or do not share children. State law also excludes certain types of disciplinary measures, such as detention, corporal punishment, or restraint, from the family violence laws and instead defines these as “reasonable discipline”.

Consequences of a Conviction for Family Violence in Georgia

The penalties that are associated with a family violence conviction in Georgia will vary widely depending on the type of crime. Many family violence offenses are considered wobblers, meaning they can be punished as either misdemeanors or felonies depending on any aggravating or mitigating factors in your case.

You Could Also Face Assault or Battery Penalties

One of the most common types of family violence charges in Georgia is assault and battery. If you are accused of putting someone else in fear of an imminent or violent injury, or commit a violent injury against them, you may be charged with simple assault under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-20. You could also face battery charges under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23 if you engage in physical contact with someone else to provoke, insult, or cause physical harm to another. If convicted of battery or assault, you could spend up to 12 months in jail and up to $5,000.

Family violence battery comes with harsher penalties than battery charges that do not involve family violence. While a first family violence battery offense may be tried as a misdemeanor, a second offense will be tried as a felony. This is different from traditional battery charges, which do not increase to the felony level until a defendant has been convicted for a third battery offense against the same victim.

Stalking or Aggravated Stalking Penalties

Another charge related to family violence is stalking or aggravated stalking. This involves one party attempting to contact or contacting another with the purpose of intimidating or harassing them. A stalking offense under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-90 carries fines of up to $1,000 and as much as 12 months in jail if you are convicted. Subsequent offenses can carry a prison term of up to 10 years.

Aggravated stalking under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-91 can include following the alleged victim or surveilling them while in violation of an existing protective order. If convicted, you could spend up to 10 years in a Georgia state prison and be fined up to $10,000.

Aggravated Assault or Battery Penalties May Apply

You could also be charged with aggravated assault under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-21 or aggravated battery under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-24. Aggravated battery occurs when one party causes malicious bodily harm to another. Aggravated assault occurs when one party assaults the other with a deadly weapon or object by discharging a firearm from a moving vehicle with the intent to rob, murder, or rape or with any object that could or does cause strangulation. These are felony-level offenses, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

What Happens if the Defendant Violates a Family Violence Protective Order?

If someone is charged with a family violence offense, they may have a protective order taken out against them. Failure to adhere to the requirements of a protective order could result in misdemeanor criminal charges under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-95. Penalties include fines of up to $1,000 and as much as 12 months in jail.

Firearm Restrictions in GA Domestic Violence Cases

Individuals charged with family violence may be released on bail with certain restrictions. For example, when a temporary protective order is issued, judges have the authority to impose firearm restrictions under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-131. This will prevent the accused from being in possession of a firearm. Violation of the state’s firearms possession laws could result in up to 10 years incarceration, according to O.C.G.A. § 17-6-1.

Getting Out on Bail or Arranging Pretrial Release

Depending on the type of family violence charge you are facing, you may be able to get out on bail. Before you can be bailed out, you will need to go before a judge who will set bond conditions. If you are arrested at night or on the weekend, you could spend several days behind bars before you can secure your release. However, in certain types of domestic violence offenses, bond could be denied. If you are granted bail, the alleged victim in your case may be notified.

Talk With a Trial-Proven Family Violence Defender in Georgia for Help

Family violence and other related criminal charges may come with harsh penalties that continue to follow you for the foreseeable future. If you hope to get back to your life, your best option may be to enter a plea agreement with the district attorney. However, if you do not qualify, defending yourself at trial may be your only option.

You are well within your rights to work with a public defender. However, they may be overworked, inexperienced, and incapable of giving your case their full attention. Discuss potential adverse consequences and potential defense strategies with a private criminal defender who can use their considerable skills and resources to clear your name.