Domestic violence is a crime, defined by Ohio statute as causing, attempting to cause, or threatening physical harm against a family or household member.
Section 2919.25 of the Ohio Revised Code reads in relevant part:
(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.
Domestic violence can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony of varying degrees, depending on the nature and outcome of a particular incident, whether the offender has previous convictions for domestic violence (or similar crimes) and whether the offender knew the victim was pregnant. Domestic violence charges can be accompanied by additional charges, including felony firearm possession and/or resisting arrest. If you are convicted of domestic violence and knew the victim was pregnant, there is a mandatory term of incarceration.
Threatening Domestic Violence
Threatening to cause harm to a family member or household member, even if you do not physically assault the person, can still result in a fourth-degree misdemeanor. If you are found guilty, you may face jail time as well as a discretionary fine. Charges and penalties are more severe if you have prior convictions for domestic violence or if you knew the victim was pregnant.
Definition of a Household or Family Member
To be charged with domestic violence, the victim must be a family or household member, which is defined by Ohio statute as:
● a spouse, former spouse, or a romantic partner with whom the offender has resided in the last five years
● the offender’s parent or foster parent
● a child of the offender
● an extended family member of the offender
● a parent or child of the offender’s spouse, former spouse, or romantic partner
● an extended family member of the offender’s spouse, former spouse, or romantic partner
The other parent of any child or alleged child of the offender is also considered a family member under Ohio law, whether or not she or he lives with or ever has lived with the offender.
Domestic Violence Penalties in Ohio
Depending on the nature of a particular incident and if the offender has previous convictions for domestic violence (or similar crimes) and whether the offender knew the victim was pregnant, a person convicted of domestic violence faces the following range of penalties:
● for 1st-degree misdemeanor, up to six months in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000
● for 2nd-degree misdemeanor, up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine up to $750
● for 3rd-degree misdemeanor, up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine up to $500
● for 4th-degree misdemeanor, up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine up to $250
● for 5th-degree felony, six to twelve months in prison and a fine up to $2,500
● for 4th-degree felony, six to eighteen months in prison and a fine up to $5,000
● for 3rd-degree felony, nine months to three years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
If the offender knew that the victim was pregnant, the court requires a minimum sentence of six months to one year in prison. The length of the sentence depends on whether domestic violence was threatened or if actual harm was caused, and whether the victim’s unborn child was harmed.
In addition to jail time and a discretionary fine, someone convicted of domestic violence in Ohio may also be required to pay restitution. Restitution is a court-ordered payment to cover costs that the victim may have incurred as a result of the domestic violence, such as medical treatment, counseling, or replacing and repairing damaged property.
Domestic Violence is a Serious Crime
Even a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence becomes part of your permanent record and will prevent you from purchasing or possessing a firearm. A conviction for domestic violence will have many other collateral penalties that can have an adverse impact on many aspects of your life, including your job.
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Ohio, resisting arrest, or other criminal charges, having an attorney to help you navigate the court system is crucial. An experienced criminal defense attorney will help determine whether you have any defenses to the charge(s) and thoroughly discuss your options. Should you decide to go to trial, a criminal defense attorney is an absolute necessity. For more information and a free consultation, please contact Jeff Hastings, experienced Cleveland Criminal Defense Attorney.