Georgia’s Family Violence Act – Here’s What You Should Know

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Georgia’s Family Violence Act is a complex law. It may impact you through criminal charges or a protective order (restraining order). The impact on your life can be extreme. Our criminal defense lawyers explain what you need to know about the Georgia Family Violence Act.

Many relationships are included:

Georgia law § 19-13-1 defines “family violence” as it is used in the Georgia Family Violence Act. It applies to many types of family relationships, including:

  • Spouses
  • Former spouses
  • Child in common
  • Parent-child
  • Stepparent-stepchild
  • Foster parent-foster child
  • People who live in a household
  • People who used to live in a household

Dating relationships are now included:

Previously, Georgia excluded dating relationships from its Family Violence Act. However, in 2021, lawmakers amended the law to include dating relationships. The amendment defines a dating relationship.

Many crimes are included:

In addition to many relationships being included in the Georgia Family Violence Act, there are many types of crimes that are included too. Crimes that may fall under the Act are:

  • All felonies
  • Battery, simple battery
  • Assault, simple assault
  • Stalking
  • Criminal property damage
  • Unlawful restraint
  • Criminal trespass

Criminal penalties may be more serious:

A criminal offense that falls under Georgia’s Family Violence Act typically carries more severe penalties than if the offense is not under the Act. Even if the offender does not have a prior conviction, they may face more considerable maximum penalties because of the family relationship involved.

The court may issue a protective order (restraining order):

Family Violence Protection Orders are a significant part of the Family Violence Act (§ 19-13-3). A person may petition the court for a protective order by alleging family violence. The petition should be heard within 10 days or 30 days at the latest. You have the right to have a defense attorney represent you at this hearing.

If a protective order is issued, the standard length is one year, but it can be extended. The penalty for violating a protection order is up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A protective order can include numerous factors:

If a protective order is issued, it may cover various topics, including:

  • Granting a party possession of a shared home
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Eviction of a party from the household
  • Child support payments
  • Possession of personal property
  • Prohibition of harassment or interference
  • Attorney costs and fees
  • Mandatory psychiatric treatment and counseling

While a protective order may seem sudden, it is important to address the petition quickly and comprehensively. For example, what begins as a temporary custody order may quickly change into an arrangement that lasts for years.

When you receive a petition for a protective order, it may seem like a minor inconvenience and not worth fighting. However, the impact may last for a long time into the future. Talk to our criminal defense lawyers about the impact of a protective order and how to protect your rights and best interests.

Family violence intervention is mandatory:

When the court sentences a defendant for family violence or when they impose a protective order, they must require the defendant to participate in a family violence intervention program. Alternatively, the court must state on the record why it’s not appropriate to have the defendant participate.

It is not the only law that may apply to a situation:

The Georgia Family Violence Act is one law that may apply to a family relationship. However, it is not the only domestic law in Georgia. Many laws impact family relationships. Stalking laws (§ 16-5-90 et seq.), divorce, child custody, and even social services laws may all play a role.

Be sure to look at the entire situation and all the applicable laws. An experienced attorney can help you understand and address the complex issues that may be present in your case. (See § 19-13-5, stating that remedies under the Georgia Family Violence Act are not exclusive.)

You have the right to a defense with the help of a criminal defense lawyer

If you are facing criminal charges or a petition for a protective order under Georgia’s Family Violence Act, you have important legal rights. You can aggressively assert your rights and fight back.

At Moffitt Law, LLC, we are here to fight for you and with you. We’re on your side, and our entire reason for existing is to get you out of trouble. Contact us today to talk about your case.

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