Domestic violence is one of the few offenses where you face the possibility of both a criminal prosecution and a civil suit. In other words, someone alleging that you committed domestic violence against them can sue you for their alleged injuries in addition to a criminal justice trial.
The elements of a domestic violence charge
Most cases of domestic violence involve a person harming or attempting to harm someone in their household, either through physical violence, mental abuse or sexual abuse. In order to convict you, the prosecutor would have to present evidence that you committed an act of violence against someone in your household that resulted in harm, or that you attempted to.
It’s important to note that the threat of violence can also count as domestic violence for purposes of Ohio criminal law. This means that a court could find you guilty of domestic violence, even if you didn’t actually commit any acts of violence, if they prove that you put a household member in fear of imminent harm.
Penalties upon conviction
If the prosecution successfully convicts you, the penalties can vary greatly. The severity of the penalties depends upon whether the act of domestic violence qualifies as a misdemeanor (a less serious offense) or a felony (a more serious offense). Both of those categories are further divided into three degrees.
For example, if the court convicts you of a third-degree misdemeanor, the least serious offense, the maximum penalty you can face will be 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. For a third-degree felony, you could face the prospect of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
It’s important to note that there are extra penalties tied to domestic violence against a pregnant woman.
Although there is no sure way of knowing what the prosecution will charge you with, knowing the possible penalties you could face upon conviction can help you to prepare yourself. Remember that a criminal charge will not necessarily lead to a conviction. You always have the opportunity to prepare and present a defense to the charges.