Whether you’ve been charged with domestic violence or are thinking about reporting someone for alleged domestic violence, you’re probably wondering about the range of potential penalties. Domestic violence is serious; although the states penalize it differently, every state takes the offense seriously.
Like charges for domestic violence, the ranges of criminal penalties are set by the laws of the individual U.S. states. There is little to no consistency across state lines. In addition, criminal penalties are not the only potential outcome for those convicted of domestic violence; rather, there are different types of consequences for domestic violence offenders:
- Being required to perform community service
- Being required to successfully complete intervention programs, such as anger management classes
- Becoming subject to a restraining order, which limits where you can be
- Serving probation
- Serving jail time
- Paying fines
- Losing child custody or having your parental rights terminated
- Becoming subject to supervised visitation with your children
- Paying damages after a successful civil lawsuit
- Being deported (aliens)
- Becoming unable to possess a firearm legally
- Being prohibited from getting a job in the public sector
- Losing professional licenses, certificates, and bonds
- Chances of getting loans or credits also decreases significantly
This article focuses on the criminal penalties that may be inflicted for a conviction of some form of domestic violence.
In most cases, a person convicted of domestic violence will serve some jail time. With that said, the laws of most states give judges discretion to impose more or less severe penalties; as a result, if a victim is not hurt badly and if it is a first offense, an offender may be able to obtain lighter penalties, such as community service, anger management classes, a fine, and/or probation.
Here are some factors that affect domestic violence penalties:
- Whether the conviction is for a felony or a misdemeanor: Felonies carry heavier penalties than misdemeanors.
- Whether the conviction is for a first offense: Judges assessing penalties for domestic violence are more likely to assess heavier penalties for individuals with prior convictions.
- Who the victim is: In some states, the penalties for general offenses, such as battering, are enhanced when they fit into a category of domestic violence, such as child abuse, spousal abuse, or elder abuse.
- Whether a child witnessed the violence: A few U.S. states provide for a penalty enhancement when a child was present and saw the domestic violence occur.
The long and short of it is that if you are charged with a domestic violence offense, a licensed criminal lawyer in your state is best positioned to help you receive the best possible outcome. Similarly, if you are thinking about reporting someone for domestic abuse, you should consult with a licensed family lawyer in your state.