The defamation lawsuit by Johnny Depp against Amanda Heard brought nationwide and even global attention to the details of their personal relationship. Because the trial stemmed from Heard’s filing of a restraining order and claim of domestic violence, the trial also brought attention to the dynamics of family relationships. A recent ABC News tweet quotes one of the jurors as saying that while [they] all agreed “they were both abusive to each other,” Amber’s team failed to prove that Johnny’s was physical. (abcn.ws/3N1dAi2)
If you or someone you know has been accused of Domestic Violence or other crime, you may decide to go to trial in order to disprove the claim. If that’s the case, you want a defense attorney with the trial experience of representing those accused of domestic violence. An experienced attorney can urge a jury to consider only what the prosecution has a burden to prove versus deciding based upon “connecting their own dots.”
Although the Depp-Heard trial is about defamation, it is an example of how being accused of domestic violence (DV) or other crime against another person can destroy not only your relationships but also your reputation. The consequences of being convicted of a DV charge can last a lifetime and impact almost every aspect of your life.
What Constitutes a Domestic Violence Charge?
Ohio State Law (ORC3113.31) defines Domestic Violence as attempting to cause or recklessly causing harm against a family or household member. Furthermore, the term Domestic is attributed to a spouse, former spouse, parent, foster parent or child. The term Violence includes not only bodily injury, but also the threat of force and the commitment of a sexually oriented offense.
With this in mind, domestic violence charges can often be accompanied by additional assault charges, including those of a sexual nature. Being convicted of a sexually-oriented crime will result in hefty prison sentences, along with having to register as a sex offender and limiting where you can work and live.
Under current Ohio law neither domestic violence, nor sex crimes records can be sealed. Therefore, if you are convicted of either crime or both, the consequences will far outlast any jail or prison sentence.
Is Domestic Violence a Felony?
- In most cases, a domestic violence offense will be charged as either a high level misdemeanor or a mid to low level felony of the 3rd, 4th, or 5th degree depending on the level of injury and the defendant’s prior record.
- A conviction for a high level misdemeanor such as an M1 can result in up to six months in jail.
- A mid-level felony, such as an F3 can result in up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for each count.
Can I File Suit Against Someone if they Wrongfully Accuse Me of Domestic Violence?
Technically, yes. Like the Depp-Heard suit, a civil suit can be filed in Ohio as in other states if you are falsely accused. However, the reality is that civil suits can be long, expensive, and often don’t yield the results you desire, especially the reclamation of your reputation.
Furthermore, if you have been accused of DV, you will be too focused on fighting criminal charges to spend time or money on a civil suit. Each case is unique, and there are times when the defendant chooses to accept a plea bargain. If you are convicted or take a plea bargain, you are unlikely to win a civil suit.
The proven approach if you are confronted with a DV charge or accusation, is to act now by contacting a qualified Ohio criminal defense attorney. You should not anticipate finding a solution on your own by “working things out” with the alleged victim, especially when a restraining order is in place.
Contacting a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately is the first and best step toward asserting your rights and/or your innocence.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help Me Fight a Domestic Violence Charge?
Just because you are arrested for Domestic Violence, it doesn’t mean you are guilty. Family dynamics are different for every household. Arguments generally go both ways, but once the alleged victim files a complaint, the other person is viewed as the perpetrator. Law enforcement will then investigate to gather evidence against the alleged perpetrator or defendant.
An Ohio criminal defense firm experienced in domestic violence will immediately launch their own investigation to uncover the real story and possibly ways to demonstrate a lack of grounds for charges. If criminal charges are brought, an experienced attorney can uncover the other side of the story to reduce the chance of an indictment or, if indicted, a lengthy prison sentence.
Despite the publicity surrounding the Johnny Depp-Amanda Heard case, neither the process of making a criminal DV complaint nor being accused of domestic violence is a glamorous experience to endure. Being accused of DV will sweep the legs from under you, your career, and your hopes and dreams for your family.
An experienced Central Ohio criminal defense attorney is ready to defend your rights today!
Written by The Law Office of Brian Jones, LLC
- Dr. Benjamin Jackoby
- Dr. Hank Jackoby