Life can sometimes take an unexpected and distressing turn, especially when facing domestic battery charges in the state of Indiana. Knowing how to navigate the complex legal landscape when dealing with domestic violence charges is crucial. If you or someone you know is facing such charges, the Marc Lopez Law Firm stands ready to provide the guidance and support needed. In this blog, we will outline some steps to keep in mind if you are facing domestic battery charges as well as the relevant section of the Indiana Code.
Understanding Indiana Code § 35-42-2-1.3
Before going through the steps you should take if you are facing criminal charges for domestic battery, it is necessary to briefly outline the relevant section of the Indiana Code. Domestic battery charges are classified based on the severity of the offense and the circumstances surrounding it. Although the 2023 Indiana Code, Title 35, Article 42, Chapter 2 outlines offenses against the person, including battery. Section 1.3 addresses domestic battery specifically:
“A person who knowingly or intentionally:
- touches a family or household member in a rude, insolent, or angry manner; or
- in a rude, insolent, or angry manner places any bodily fluid or waste on a family or household member;
commits domestic battery, a Class A misdemeanor.”
A Class A misdemeanor can carry a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Although domestic battery charges start at a misdemeanor, they can quickly escalate into felony level territory. It becomes a Level 6 felony if any number of conditions are present. Some of these conditions include:
- The offense results in moderate bodily injury to the victim.
- The offense occurs in the presence of a minor under sixteen years old.
- The offense is committed against a family or household member who is under fourteen years old.
- The offense is committed against a family or household member who has a mental or physical disability.
- The offense is committed against a family or household member while a no contact order issued by the court directing the person to refrain from having any direct or indirect contact with the family or household member.
A Level 6 felony conviction can carry a penalty of 6 months to two and a half years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Domestic battery can also quickly become a Level 5 felony. Some of the conditions which can make domestic battery a Level 5 felony are:
- The offense results in serious bodily injury to the victim.
- The offense is committed with a deadly weapon.
- The victim was pregnant at the time of the offense and the offender knew about the pregnancy.
- The offense results in any bodily injury against a minor who is under fourteen year old, a family or household member who has a mental or physical disability, or a family or household member who is an endangered adult.
A Level 5 felony conviction can carry a penalty of one to six years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. If the offense results in serious bodily injury toward an endangered adult or a minor, or results in the death of someone, charges can once again increase to Level 4, 3, and 2 felonies. Because the severity of charges can quickly increase, it is crucial to understand the potential legal consequences you may face based on the specifics of your case.
Taking the Right Steps
Whether you are facing a Class A misdemeanor or a Level 2 felony charge for domestic violence, there are three steps that are important to keep in mind.
1. Exercise Your Right To Remain Silent
Emotions can run high when you are charged with domestic battery, and the urge to tell your side of the story is natural. It is crucial, however, to exercise your right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you which is why the Marc Lopez Law Firm emphasizes the importance of pleading the fifth, a fundamental constitutional right which you should exercise.
2. No-Contact Orders
Domestic battery charges often come with no-contact orders. In short, a no-contact order means that you are to have absolutely no communication with the alleged victim, even if you are married or have children together. Violating a no-contact order can lead to more criminal charges and revocation of bond. If you or someone you know is facing or has violated a no-contact order, reach out to the Marc Lopez Law Firm for guidance on moving forward.
3. Hire an experienced Indiana Criminal Defense Attorney
Navigating the complexities of domestic battery charges is a challenging endeavor, especially when emotions are running high. A skilled criminal defense attorney familiar with the legal nuances of domestic violence charges can be your most valuable ally during a difficult time. They are able to assess your specific situation and work toward a favorable outcome that can include fighting the charges, trying to obtain reduced charges, negotiating plea agreements and representing you in court.
Understanding the Legal Process
Apart from the initial steps above, having a broader understanding of the legal process can be empowering. The legal system can be intricate, and knowing what to expect can help you navigate it more effectively. The typical process will involve five parts.
1. Arrest and Initial Appearance
The process typically begins with your arrest, followed by an initial appearance in court. During this appearance, charges are formally presented and bail may be set by the judge.
This is where you enter a plea—guilty or not guilty. Having legal representation at this stage is crucial.
3. Pre-Trial Proceedings
This is the period before the trial and involves the discovery process, where both sides gather evidence. This is also the period where motions may be filed and plea negotiations can occur.
If a plea deal is not reached, the case proceeds to trial. The prosecution presents evidence against you and your defense attorney challenges it. A judge or jury then decides the verdict.
If you are found guilty, the judge determines your sentence. This can range from fines and probation to incarceration, the duration of these depends on the severity of the charges.
Make the Right Call
Facing domestic violence charges in Indiana is a serious matter. Understanding the legal framework provided by Indiana Code § 35-42-2-1.3 and taking the right steps when charged with domestic violence is crucial. Here at the Marc Lopez Law Firm, we are dedicated to providing the legal support and guidance needed during this challenging time. Your future and peace of mind are our top priorities, guiding you toward a brighter tomorrow, even when facing the complexities of domestic battery charges in Indiana
In times of crisis, legal representation can make all the difference. If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence charges reach out to our criminal defense attorneys at The Marc Lopez Law Firm. Call us today at 317-632-3642 and remember—always plead the 5th!