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.