The attorneys at the Marc Lopez Law Firm hate to see criminal charges ruin someone’s life, and that includes accusations of domestic battery. Not every domestic battery charge involves serious violence, but that doesn’t mean the case shouldn’t be taken seriously. Anyone accused of domestic battery is facing harsh consequences.
First, though, let’s clear up some terminology. Domestic battery is a criminal charge, and it occurs when you touch a family or household member in a rude, insolent or angry manner. The term crime of domestic violence, however, is not a criminal charge. It refers to a broader category of criminal convictions that includes but is not limited to domestic battery. You can read more about this distinction here.
Of all the possible crimes of domestic violence, the most commonly charged is probably domestic battery. A first-time offender will likely end up facing a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. You can be charged with a Level 6 felony, however, if you’re alleged to have knowingly committed domestic battery in the presence of a child younger than 16. A Level 6 felony carries a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Charges can also increase based on the alleged harm suffered by the battered party. The Indiana Code refers to three categories in this context:
If the alleged victim reports pain of any kind, that qualifies as bodily injury. If the alleged victim reports substantial pain, you’re now looking at moderate bodily injury. Domestic battery that results in moderate bodily injury can be charged as a Level 6 felony.
Serious bodily injury refers to trauma that either creates a substantial risk of death or causes:
- Serious permanent disfigurement;
- Extreme pain;
- Permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ; or
- Loss of a fetus.
Domestic battery that results in serious bodily injury can be charged as a Level 5 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If you’re alleged to have knowingly battered a pregnant woman, that’s a Level 5 felony as well. You can also be charged with a Level 5 felony where the alleged offense is committed with a deadly weapon or where you have a previous conviction for battering the same family or household member.
If you find yourself charged with domestic battery or any other crime of domestic violence, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First and foremost, don’t give a statement to the police. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
If a detective contacts you and wants to ask you some questions, your best course of action is to embrace your right to remain silent. There’s no reason to be rude, but there’s also no reason to cooperate with someone who’s trying to put you in jail. If you don’t have your attorney present, do yourself a favor and plead the Fifth.
Secondly, you should absolutely abide by any and all court orders. If you’re facing domestic battery charges, the judge will likely issue a no contact order at your initial hearing. This means you can have no contact with the alleged victim.
This is often difficult, as it means making a clean break with loved ones or family—but no contact means no contact. You’re not allowed to communicate with them in any way. It’s possible to contest a no contact order, but impatience is likely to land you in a bigger mess. Violating a no contact order will almost certainly earn you new criminal charges for invasion of privacy.
Criminal charges are serious business, especially when they separate you from your family. The right attorney, however, can guide you to the light at the end of the tunnel. Call the Marc Lopez Law Firm at 317-632-3642