Domestic Violence Defense

The law in Georgia has categorized and defined certain criminal acts as “family violence.” These offenses are prosecuted specially and are subject to harsher criminal sentences such as increased jail time, mandatory 24-week certified Family Violence Intervention Program, anger and violence counseling, loss of your right to carry or possess a firearm, restrictions from contact with your spouse or children, and restrictions from living in the family home. Additionally, many family violence arrests lead to TPOs (temporary protective orders) or 12-month protective order.

FAMILY VIOLENCE [OCGA § 19-13-1] is defined as:

1) Any Felony Offense; or Battery, Simple Battery, Simple Assault, Assault, Stalking, Criminal Damage to Property, Unlawful Restraint, or Criminal Trespass AND

2) Committed Between the following:

  • Past or Present Spouses
  • Persons who are parents of the Same Child
  • Parents and Children
  • Stepparents and Stepchildren
  • Foster Parents and Foster Children
  • Persons Living or Formerly Living in the Same Household

PROTECTIVE ORDERS [OCGA § 19-13-4]:

Law enforcement officers investigating domestic violence cases will advise an abused party on how to obtain a TPO (Temporary Protective Order) by filing a petition in Superior Court. If the victim alleges physical violence, harassment, threats, damage to property, or a pattern of stalking behavior, the judge will issue an ex parte TPO (an order of no contact) until a hearing can be held. The Sheriff will then serve the alleged abuser with a copy of the petition, TPO, and court date for the trial.

DO NOT IGNORE A TPO. The impact of a protective order can be as damaging as a criminal conviction. A Superior Court Judge has vast authority to grant relief to a party alleging abuse, including: no contact with victim, award of temporary custody of children, eviction from a marital residence, monetary support for a spouse or children, order for psychiatric examination, and attorney’s fees. Moreover, once a judge grants a protective order, an individual can longer carry a firearm. Such a protective order can be made permanent and will appear on an individual’s criminal record just like a criminal arrest. Most frightening however, is that once a protective order is in place, any allegation of prohibited contact made by the former girlfriend or spouse will result in arrest for the felony of aggravated stalking and no bond. Maddox and Carlos are highly experienced in defending against these petitions for protective order and criminal allegations of domestic violence.

STALKING [OCGA § 16-5-90]:

The criminal offense of STALKING occurs when a person follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place without the consent of the other person for purposes of harassing and intimidating the other person. “Harassing and intimidating” means a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes emotional distress by placing such person in reasonable fear for herself or her family. For a person to be guilty of stalking, the State must establish a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior. Because judges in Georgia can find virtually any single event (or acts separated by many years) to constitute a “pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior” a stalking charge can be very difficult to defend and should be handled by experienced counsel such as Maddox and Carlos.

AGGRAVATED STALKING [16-5-91]:

The criminal offense of AGGRAVATED STALKING occurs when a person follows, places another under surveillance, or contacts another person without her consent for purposes of harassing and intimidating her in violation of an order prohibiting such behavior, such as a protective order or condition of probation. Aggravated stalking is a felony punishable up to 10 years in state prison. Because there will be no bond at the time of arrest for aggravated stalking, the impact of such an arrest can be devastating, such as the loss of a job or eviction.

When facing serious life-changing criminal charges related to domestic violence, having a lawyer with real courtroom experience can make all the difference. Maddox and Carlos put such experience to work in zealously defending against charges of domestic violence.

PROTECTIVE ORDER HORROR STORY

[2011 - B. Z. vs. L. S. Cobb Superior Court 11-1-9040] A protective order in the hands of a former girlfriend can be BIG TROUBLE. Without the assistance of an attorney, L. S. went to court and had a 12-month protective order granted to his former girlfriend. He could not come within 500 feet of her, nor have any contact with her. And he didn’t. Just before the protective order was set to expire,  the former girlfriend was in a nail salon when she saw L. S. park his car and walk into a Publix Grocery Store in the same shopping center. The former girlfriend called police and falsely alleged that L. S. was stalking her. Police stopped L. S. on his way home, groceries still in the car, and arrested him for the felony of aggravated stalking. With NO BOND...L. S. was stuck in jail. Maddox quickly got the case before a judge. And a thorough cross-examination of the arresting officer exposed the officer’s failure to conduct any investigation whatsoever. After three weeks in jail, the charge of aggravated stalking was dismissed. L. S. slept in his own bed that night. Weeks later a trial was held on the former girlfriend’s petition to extend the original protective order for another year. Through cross-examination, the girlfriend’s false allegations and malicious intent were exposed. The petition to extend the protective order dismissed.