You had a disagreement with your spouse, significant other, or a family member, and have been charged with domestic violence. Your freedom, relationship, job, and reputation are at risk. Prosecutors are reluctant to amend or drop a domestic violence charge. Prosecutors, nor the police have all the necessary facts or know all the circumstances surrounding or leading up to the incident. The State of Ohio also has a policy to arrest someone if there is a call for domestic violence. This is one reason why you need Attorney Christopher Fogt on your side. Attorney Fogt is very experienced with felony domestic violence as well as misdemeanor domestic violence.
Elements of Domestic Violence & Penalties (R.C. 2919.25)
(A) No person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member.
(B) No person shall recklessly cause serious physical harm to a family or household member.
(C) No person, by threat of force, shall knowingly cause a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.
Per R.C. 3113.31, "Family or household member" means any of the following:
(a) Any of the following who is residing with or has resided with the respondent:
(i) A spouse, a person living as a spouse, or a former spouse of the respondent;
(ii) A parent, a foster parent, or a child of the respondent, or another person related by consanguinity or affinity to the respondent;
(iii) A parent or a child of a spouse, person living as a spouse, or former spouse of the respondent, or another person related by consanguinity or affinity to a spouse, person living as a spouse, or former spouse of the respondent.
(b) The natural parent of any child of whom the respondent is the other natural parent or is the putative other natural parent.
This allows prosecutors broad discretion to charge you with domestic violence or assault. Depending on the type of domestic violence, you can be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor or a first-degree misdemeanor. If you have a prior domestic violence conviction, a subsequent domestic violence charge is a fourth-degree felony. If you have already been convicted of a fourth-degree felony, a subsequent domestic violence charge is third-degree felony. Depending on the level of domestic violence, you can be facing 30 days in jail up to 5 years in prison.
Q: Do complainants typically want the defendant to go to prison?
A: It depends on the relationship, the relationship's dynamics, as well as the circumstances of the incident. Some complainants just want the defendant to receive help with their anger, drug/alcohol use, or mental health issue.
Q: What if the complainant does NOT want to be involved anymore? Can the prosecutor still go forward?
A: The prosecutor can still go forward depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, but is unlikely to do so. This is because the evidence that needs to be admitted likely comes from the complainant and without the complainant, the evidence is inadmissible due to evidence rules as well as the defendant's right to cross examine under Crawford vs. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004).
Q: Will the prosecutor "pressure" the complainant to be involved even if the complainant does not want to be involved?
A: Typically yes. Most prosecutors will try to convince a complainant that despite their relationship with the defendant, whether they have been married for years, have children, and have never had a verbal or physical altercation, even one with no injuries; that this incident will now repeat, get worse, and that she should go through with the prosecution. The prosecutor may even tell the complainant if she fails to follow through with the prosecution then the prosecutor will charge the complainant with making a false police report.
Q: What can the complainant do if the prosecutor will not drop the charge?
A: The complainant can contact your attorney about it. The complainant can also contact the prosecutor about the matter. The best thing though is for the complainant to retain an attorney and have their attorney contact the prosecutor. Also, under Marsy's Law, it is arguable that the prosecutor should respect the complainant's wishes and not involve the complainant any further once the complainant tells the prosecutor that she no longer wishes to be involved.
Q: If I am convicted of domestic violence, can I own or purchase a firearm?
A: No, you can never own or purchase a firearm.
Q: What can I do to help my case if I end up pleading to a lesser charge or even domestic violence?
A: Address any issues that may have led to this incident. Take an anger management class, address any alcohol/drug problems as well
Fogt Law Can Help
Attorney Fogt has many ways he can help you if you are charged with domestic violence.
- Discuss the incident with you;
- Learn the history between you and the complainant;
- Carefully review all the evidence, including, but not limited to any medical reports and police reports, etc.;
- Discuss the incident with the prosecutor as needed so that the prosecutor knows your side of the story;
- Have his investigator interview the complainant and witnesses as needed; and
- Go to trial.
To expound upon the defense in these type of cases, typically the prosecutor and the police are unaware of the whole story. Sometimes the complainant had verbally abused the defendant and backed the defendant into a corner so that when the defendant tried to create space, the complainant will report that she was struck, pushed, etc. Sometimes the defendant has broken up with the complainant and the complainant instigates the incident. Accusations of "cheating" usually lead to altercations over a cell phone. Every case is unique.
If after discussing your matter with Attorney Fogt and reviewing all options and evidence, you determine that you will plead guilty to domestic violence or a lesser crime such as assault or disorderly conduct, Attorney Fogt will present mitigation evidence to the Court on your behalf.