Domestic violence refers to any single or repeated incident of abuse occurring within the context of an intimate or familial relationship. It typically refers to violence between spouses, but it can also include other types of abuse such as child abuse or elderly abuse. Domestic violence includes both physical and non-physical violence (such as threats, abusive language, or psychological/emotional manipulation).

Instances of domestic violence can result in various consequences such as civil damages, criminal sentences, and restraining orders

Is Domestic Violence a Felony?

Domestic violence can be classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the seriousness of the incident. Felony domestic violence is a very serious offense leading to legal consequences such as heavy fines, possible time in prison, and a protection order. Felony domestic violence may involve:

  • Violence resulting in serious bodily harm or death
  • Violence or abuse inflicted on a minor or young child
  • Acts involving injuries caused by a deadly weapon (threats with a weapon may also result in felony charges)
  • Acts involving conduct of an inappropriate sexual nature
  • Felony charges are very difficult to have expunged from one’s record, though this can be possible after a long period of time.

What Is Misdemeanor Domestic Violence?

Misdemeanor domestic violence is a lesser offense than felony domestic violence. Misdemeanors usually result in smaller criminal fines and a sentence in jail (not prison) of up to one year. Misdemeanor domestic violence typically involves simple assault or battery, or verbal abuse. It can also involve fighting between two adults. However, note that misdemeanor domestic violence can be "elevated" to a felony crime if it is a second or third conviction.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Domestic Violence Issues?

Domestic violence cases are very serious and generally require the assistance of a qualified family law attorney. It’s in your best interests to hire a family lawyer for help if you have any issues, concerns, or legal disputes involving domestic violence. An experienced lawyer will be able to guide you through the process to ensure that you and your loved ones receive the attention and protection that is needed.