Ohio takes domestic violence cases seriously. As such, when police officers respond to alleged incidents, the law gives them the authority to make a warrantless arrest. If the officer decides to wait to obtain a warrant before arresting and detaining the alleged actor, they must state in their report their reasons for doing so. The consequences of a domestic violence conviction are severe and include incarceration and/or fines. Anyone charged would benefit from retaining the services of a criminal defense lawyer.
An Overview of Ohio's Domestic Violence Law
Ohio's domestic violence statute under Ohio Revised Code § 2919.25 prohibits anyone from knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to a family or household member. The law also prohibits anyone from recklessly causing serious physical harm to such an individual or threatening such an individual and making them believe that they are in danger of imminent physical harm.
A family or household member is defined as someone who is living with or has lived with the alleged actor.
Their relationship must have been one of the following:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Parent, foster parent, or child
- Relatives by blood or marriage
- Persons living as spouses or former spouses
- Parent or child of a spouse
- Persons who have a child together
The Role of the Police in a Domestic Violence Case
When the police are notified of an alleged domestic violence incident, they must follow specific statutory protocol. The procedures are outlined in Ohio Revised Code § 2935.032.
The officer's priority is separating both parties immediately. The officer will then interview each in different locations and make a written record of their statements. During these conversations, the officer gathers significant details about the current incident and past events.
Concerning prior instances of domestic violence, the officer will want to know the frequency of such incidents and severity of any injuries sustained.
The officer may use the information to understand better what recently occurred and whether an immediate arrest is warranted.
The Authority to Arrest Without a Warrant
In cases of domestic violence, Ohio Revised Code § 2935.03 allows police officers to arrest the alleged actor without first obtaining a warrant. This is the preferred course of action in these matters.
The officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that the individual caused or attempted injury or made a threat to a family or household member. If family or household members were thought to have acted against each other, the officer would arrest the person they felt was the primary aggressor.
When determining the primary aggressor, the officer will consider various factors, including the following:
- Whether either person has a history of domestic violence
- Whether either person was acting in self-defense
- Whether either person is fearful of the other
- The severity of each party's injuries
The officer may consider not arresting or detaining a person until they've gotten a warrant. However, if they choose this course of action, they must state in their report their reasons for waiting.
The Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
The potential penalties for a domestic violence offense depend on the alleged acts involved.
If the actor threatened a family or household member, they would be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor, carrying a jail term of up to 30 days and/or a fine of not more than $250.
Incidents involving physical injury or attempted physical injury to a family or household member are first-degree misdemeanors. The possible conviction penalties include incarceration for a maximum of 180 days and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Avenues for Fighting a Domestic Violence Charge
Challenging domestic violence accusations can be difficult. That is why enlisting a criminal defense attorney is essential. They can provide invaluable support through the legal process. Their experience and know-how allow them to analyze evidence, assess their client's situation, and develop a solid legal strategy.To discuss your Dayton case with L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC, contact us at (937) 685-7006.