What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges?

Sep 21, 2018

domestic violence charges
Nearly 10 million people are victims of domestic violence annually, and there are 20,000 phone calls reported to hotlines daily.
For those who commit acts of domestic violence, the punishments are severe and the effects are long-term and often permanent. Let’s explore the penalties that are possible when one is facing domestic violence charges.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is categorized as an act of violence against another household member. Though spouses and children in the same family are the most common victims of domestic violence, victims can also include other members living in the same home. This includes ex-spouses, relatives, roommates, the elderly (persons 65 or older), or dating/sexual partner.
However, in some states, the victim and the aggressor do not need to be living together, or ever have lived together, for domestic violence to classify.

Types of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is typically charged as a misdemeanor but can be charged as a felony if the violence is significant. The aggressor’s criminal history is also taken into account.
Types of domestic violence can include:

  • assault
  • battery
  • sexual assault
  • kidnapping
  • child abuse
  • stalking
  • emotional abuse
  • abandonment

Assault And Battery
The most common types of domestic violence are assault and battery.
Assault is the threat or intimidation of violence without resorting to physicalities. This is often the prelude to battery, but not always.
Battery is the opposite. It’s a physical act of violence towards a victim without consent. Although in some cases, merely touching or grabbing an item held by the victim can be defined as battery.
Battery has two classifications; simple and aggravated. Simple battery is charged as a misdemeanor since this act (though still violent), would cause mild harm to the victim. Aggravated battery causes severe harm such as extreme pain, intense bodily harm such as broken bones or even death, and is charged as a felony.
In some states, there are no separate charges between assault and battery.

Domestic Violence Charges

The punishment for domestic violence largely depends on whether the charge is deemed as a misdemeanor or a felony, and how the state decides to proceed.
Once someone is arrested for domestic violence, they await their charges and punishments.
Here are some of the possible penalties for domestic violence.

Jail Time

When domestic violence is charged as a misdemeanor, jail time is possible up to one year. Jail time is usually expected if the charge is a felony.
Depending on the charge, jail time can be served in a state or federal prison.

Community Service

A judge may order the offender to perform community service. Community service can seem like a lighter sentence, but failure to complete hours has significant consequences.

Loss of Firearm

In the United States, when a person is charged with domestic violence they lose the right to carry a firearm, and it is a crime to sell or give a firearm to someone charged with a domestic violence misdemeanor.

Intervention Programs

Anger Management programs and Batterer Intervention and Prevention Programs (BIPP) may be a penalty for offenders.
Anger management focuses on the person’s inability to control their anger but does not address the issues of control and power that are the undercurrent of domestic violence.
BIPP’s program focuses on being accountable for your actions, the safety of the victim and teaching about behaviors that spurred domestic violence. This is a more appropriate route for the offender to alter their behavior and thinking.
A judge may order an intervention program as a penalty for domestic violence in addition to other punishments. The length of time is decided by a judge.

Order of Protection

A protective order protects the victim from further abuse by the offender.
Typically, there are two types of protective orders:
Emergency Protective Orders (EPO): a short-term order in which the abuser is required to leave the home or property to give the victim time to decide how to proceed. The length of an EPO can last anywhere from 3-7 days.
Protection Order: an order of protection for a longer period of time (one year or in severe cases, a lifetime) from the victim. Protection orders can protect children, other relatives, roommates, or dating/sexual partners. In some states, these are referred to as restraining orders.
There are several different protection orders:

  • No Contact: The abuser has zero communication with the victim. This includes calling, texting, emailing, stalking, or any other form of communication that disrupts the victim.
  • Peaceful Contact: The abuser may have limited contact with the victim under supervision. This happens often when children are involved.
  • Stay Away: The abuser is ordered by a judge to stay away from the victim within a certain distance. The distance is based upon state and severity of the charge.
  • Move Out: The abuser is ordered to move out of the property.
  • Restitution: The abuser is ordered to pay damages to the victim.


The offender may be ordered to pay fines, and they can be significant – thousands of dollars and upwards. If the abuser is charged with a domestic abuse in the first offense, the fines may be lower.
The victim may choose to file a lawsuit against their aggressor, and collect fines for emotional distress, medical bills, or damaged property.

Revoking Parental Rights

Unlike supervised visits with children of domestic violence, if the abuse is considerable and extensive, the parent/guardian of the child/children will lose their parental rights. This is a permanent decision.


If an immigrant commits an act of domestic violence, they may face deportation.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me With Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence should never be taken lightly in any situation. The effects damage all parties involved, and it is usually a long and painful road to recovery. Domestic violence charges can be a permanent record for the abuser.
Do not suffer from domestic violence alone. Hiring a lawyer is one of the best decisions to make when faced with domestic violence, as they can navigate you through the process.
The Greico Law Center is dedicated to defending charges against criminals. Contact us today to learn more about your options relating to domestic violence charges.