Today’s post is authored by Boise lawyer Courtney Peterson. Courtney’s practice focuses on criminal defense and child custody.
What does it take for your simple assault or battery charge to be elevated to a crime of domestic battery or domestic violence? Not much. An act as simple as grabbing your live-in boyfriend or girlfriend by the wrist might be charged as a domestic violence crime. In Idaho, you don’t have to married to someone to be accused of domestic violence. All it takes is evidence that an alleged victim is a “household member.” Aside from a spouse, “household member” can include a former spouse, a person you have a child with regardless of whether you’ve been married or not, or a person who you cohabitate with. If you’re charged with a domestic battery or assault, not only could you be spending more time in jail, but you run the risk of being charged with a felony if this isn’t your first offense. A first offense domestic violence charge, whether a battery or assault, carries up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second charge within 10 years has a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine. If you’re charged with a third within 15 years, that’s a felony. You face up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Domestic violence allegations are always treated differently than the average battery or assault. Alleged victims are generally taken at their word, often not interviewed to the extent that an alleged aggressor is. Police automatically assume you’re guilty and will treat you as such. They might cut corners in investigating the incident and you might never get to tell your side of the story. Once you’re charged with a domestic violence act, a judge will immediately issue a No Contact Order against you to protect the alleged victim. Until you get a chance to be heard by the judge, these orders generally prohibit any contact whatsoever. You will likely have to move out of your home until the order is terminated and might be prohibited from seeing your children for a while.
Police and prosecutors take this charge seriously, and so should you. This is not something you want to fight on your own. You need an attorney with experience who can tell your story. If you’ve been charged, give us a call.