“Use the darkness of your past to propel you to a brighter future.” ― Donata Joseph –

The state of Georgia defines domestic violence as an act of “family violence.” The law protects against abuse among family members. You don’t have to be married to someone in order to be a victim or falsely accused of family violence in Georgia.

These criminal cases are under reported, victims suffer in silence, and those who committed acts of family violence or were falsely accused must face the criminal justice system.

Our lawmakers have addressed this issue by implementing Georgia’s Family Violence Act (FVA). This law is designed to protect individuals who are abused by present or past spouses, parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household. It can also be used to get temporary custody, financial support, and other assistance for the abused person. Additionally, victims that do not qualify under Georgia’s Family Violence Act may seek protection pursuant to Georgia’s stalking laws.

Most of the laws relevant to family violence are based on state law. This includes restraining or protection orders, divorce, custody, crimes, and more.

Protective Orders

Family violence charges are treated very seriously in Georgia. The court can issue a Family Law Protective Order. This order prohibits the offender from having contact with the victim for a specified period of time. If a person is found to violate a restraining or protective order, he or she could be jailed and charged with a separate crime, including aggravated stalking. Judges rarely grant a bond when someone is arrested for aggravated stalking.

A Family Violence Protection Order can:

  • Order an abuser to leave the victim alone;
  • Give the victim possession of the house and force the abuser to leave (you can ask the court to have the sheriff send someone home with you to enforce this part of the order);
  • Order assistance to help a victim get his or her personal property;
  • Make the abuser provide alternate housing for a spouse, former spouse, or parent and children;
  • Give the victim temporary custody of shared children and set temporary visitation rights;
  • Award temporary child support and/or spousal support from the abuser;
  • Order the abuser to go to counseling and/or;
  • Award costs and attorney’s fees to either party.

However, the FVA does not include “reasonable” discipline administered by a parent to a child.

The criminal charges under the FVA can be a felony or misdemeanor conviction (depending on the crime).

The potential penalties include probation, jail time, anger management classes, community service, and fines. Factors, such as prior offenses or history of domestic violence, help determine the severity of the punishment.

Even worse, under federal law, a person convicted of an offense under the FVA cannot be in possession of a firearm.

While true acts of family violence demand appropriate punishment, false allegations of family violence demand the same.

If a person reports an act of family violence that is not true, the person can be charged with false imprisonment, perjury, and other crimes.

Victims of family violence should get immediate help and keep a safe distance from the abuser.

Those who have been falsely accused or charged with a crime under the FVA should make sure they have the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves against the charges. The best way to defend yourself against domestic violence charges is to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who is established in the county where the allegations took place.

For more information on family violence in Georgia, consider researching:

Georgia Commission on Family Violence;

Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and/or;

Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (GACDL).

If someone is in need of help immediately, call 911. Another resource is the Statewide 24 Hour Hotline 1-800-33-HAVEN (1-800-334-2836).

Family violence and false allegations of such should be treated very seriously in order to protect both alleged victims and alleged abusers.