Have you ever wondered what criminal charges may be brought against someone accused of domestic violence? There’s no simple answer to this question because domestic violence is not a single crime, and the specific facts of each case influence the charges that are brought. In addition, with few exceptions, the charges must parallel the laws of the state where the alleged offense occurred. For these reasons, this article will discuss general concepts relating to domestic violence charges.
Who was the victim?
One factor that influences domestic violence charges is the identity of the victim. The term “domestic violence” can include many different people: spouses, dating partners, parents of the same child, children, and the elderly. In many states, who the victim is can influence the criminal charges that are filed for the abuse.
Some states don’t provide separately for domestic violence. Instead, they rely on their general criminal laws to decide the charges that will be brought against an accused. For example, in such a state, striking a spouse would likely be charged as battering.
Most of the time, for charges of domestic violence, the victim must live in the same house as the accused. However, whether this requirement applies depends on the facts of each case and the laws of the state where the offense occurred.
Who else was present?
The laws of some states provide for a separate crime—and thus a separate criminal charge—when a minor was present when the alleged abuse occurred. In still other states, if a minor was present, this enhances the level of the offense that may be charged. For example, what might have been charged as a misdemeanor may be charged as a felony if a minor witnessed the domestic violence.
How badly was the victim injured?
The laws of many states use the severity of the victim’s injuries as a factor in determining the potential crimes to be charged.
Was an existing restraining order or condition of probation violated?
If the aggressor’s conduct violated a restraining order that was already in place, this will often serve as the basis for a separate charge. Likewise, if the accused was on probation and his or her conduct violated a condition of probation, that will likely lead to an additional criminal charge.
There are many different forms of domestic violence, such as physical, sexual, emotional, and economic abuse. Again, state law governs which of these are considered crimes and how these offenses are likely to be charged.
Most crimes in the area of domestic violence are outlined by state legislatures in the state’s laws. Therefore, crimes that may be charged in any given state track the crimes laid out by law. Potential criminal charges would include assault, battery, child abandonment, child abuse, elder abuse, stalking, and threats of violence.
As you can see, the criminal charges that may be brought for domestic violence charges in the U.S. are very state-specific. In addition, many facts, such as the identity of the victim, others who may have been present, the victim’s injuries, and existing restraining orders or probation conditions can significantly affect the charges that are brought for domestic violence. For these reasons, to learn more, it’s critical to consult with a licensed attorney in your state.