A domestic violence felony is a crime where one family or household member commits a serious act of violence against another resident of the household. Domestic violence laws are applicable to broad range of relationships, not just between spouses. Felony Domestic Violence is one of many serious crimes classed as felonies. Felony domestic violence may occur between persons who are dating, between parents and children, same-sex partners, and other residents of the same household.
Domestic violence felony charges are typically filed as a result of assault and battery between spouses. However, they may also involve other types of crimes such as rape, sexual assaults, or kidnapping.
“Aggravating factors” may convert a misdemeanor charge into a felony, such as when simple assault becomes aggravated assault. A domestic violence incident is generally classified as a felony if it involves the following aggravating factors:
- Acts of violence that result in death or serious bodily injury to the victim
- Criminal acts directed towards minors, especially very young children
- Violent acts or threats that involve the use of a deadly weapon (for example, threatening the victim with a knife or gun with the intent to intimidate them)
- Criminal acts that involve forced sexual abuse, such as rape or sexual assault
What Are the Legal Punishments for Felony Domestic Violence?
Felony domestic violence is more serious than misdemeanor domestic violence. Misdemeanors are punishable by small monetary fines and/or jail sentences of up to one year maximum.
A domestic violence felony charge can result in the following consequences:
- Heavier fines, sometimes several thousand dollars
- Incarceration in a state or federal prison facility, for periods longer than one year
- Mandatory rehabilitation courses
- Probation periods
Also, being found guilty could result in a loss of many privileges for the offender, including:
- Loss of gun ownership privileges (for offenders who have been issued a domestic violence restraining order)
- Loss of custody rights or visitation privileges
- Inability to secure a job or housing
Finally, most domestic violence criminal charges are considered to be misdemeanors, unless they involve serious injury or violence. However, in most states, a third domestic violence misdemeanor charge will often be counted as a felony due to the previous offenses.
Are There Any Remedies or Protections against Felony Domestic Violence?
There are several remedies and legal protections available for victims of domestic violence felonies. These may include:
- Temporary restraining order (TRO): These are issued by a judge after a preliminary hearing. A TRO may require the offender to change residencies or avoid contact with the victim. TRO’s generally last a short period of time (a few weeks) until a full hearing can be conducted
- Permanent injunction: These are issued after a full hearing and may be part of the sentencing for the defendant. These may last an indefinite period of time and also order the defendant not to make contact with the victim
- Civil lawsuit: The victim may file a civil lawsuit to recover losses and expenses such as medical bills or pain and suffering damages
- Custody/child or spousal support orders: These may be modified to prevent any further incidence of violence between spouses, children, or other persons
Do I Need a Lawyer for Felony Domestic Violence?
If you are facing domestic violence felony charges, you should speak with a criminal lawyer immediately. Your attorney can advise you on how to proceed according to state and federal domestic violence laws.
Or, if you are the victim of a domestic violence felony, you should seek counseling or other attention immediately. You may also wish to consult with a family law attorney to determine what methods of recovery may be available for you. A lawyer may be necessary to help secure protective orders such as a TRO or permanent injunction.