Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys Explain Domestic Battery Conviction Consequences

July 27, 2022

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys Explain Domestic Battery Conviction Consequences

Domestic violence is taken very seriously in Indiana. Prosecutors can be aggressive when pursuing charges after a domestic violence incident. An Indiana domestic battery conviction can result in serious incarceration time as well as hefty fines as well as impact other rights and opportunities such as gun licensure and housing.

If you find yourself charged with domestic battery, it is best to contact your trusted domestic violence defense attorneys right away. An Indiana domestic violence defense lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can defend you in court and help you navigate the legal process with strategies tailored to your situation and focused on protecting your future.

How Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys Can Help

An Indiana domestic battery conviction can leave you with long-lasting consequences that impact your freedom, finances, relationships, livelihood, and more. Penalties for a conviction range from a few days or months of incarceration to 30 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. Aside from legal penalties, persons convicted of domestic battery may face a host of non-criminal consequences including problems obtaining housing, employment, and licensing. Having domestic violence defense attorneys in your corner is your best chance at walking away with a more lenient sentence and a more manageable future.

Domestic violence cases are rarely black and white, and the laws do not apply neatly to every situation. That is where the help of domestic violence defense attorneys can come into play. An experienced attorney can help ensure you have a chance to tell your side of the story in court and walk away with an outcome that is fair to all parties involved.

What Conduct Is Considered Domestic Battery?

While there is often a lot of room for interpretation in Indiana domestic violence disputes, the law aims to be relatively specific in defining domestic battery in Indiana. Under Indiana Code § 35-42-2-1.3, domestic battery involves intentionally touching a family or household member in a manner that is rude, insolent, or angry. Placing waste or bodily fluid on a victim also meets the criteria for domestic battery. Family or household members are defined under Indiana Code § 35-31.5-2-128:

  • A current spouse
  • A former spouse
  • A dating partner or sexual partner
  • A current or former guardian
  • A person who has a child in common with the other person
  • A person related to another by blood or adoption

Depending on the specific situation, domestic battery can result in Indiana criminal charges ranging from a Class A misdemeanor all the way up to a Level 2 felony. Factors that the prosecutor and court may consider in determining the charge include the nature of the offense, the severity of the violence, any prior record of domestic violence, and more.

The prosecutor must prove four distinct elements for a conviction of domestic battery. First, they must prove that the defendant had a family or household member relationship with the victim. Second, they must prove that the actual battery occurred. Third, they must prove mens rea, that the defendant knew or intentionally committed the battery. Finally, they must prove that the battery was committed in an insolent, rude, or angry manner.

Domestic violence defense attorneys know what strategies are effective in undermining evidence used to establish these elements. Even if you are convicted, an attorney can give you the best shot of convincing the court to impose a more lenient sentence.

Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys Can Fight Misdemeanor Charges

Under Indiana law, the base domestic battery offense is a misdemeanor, although the charge can be elevated to a felony under certain circumstances. Misdemeanor charges are less severe than felony charges but impact your life nonetheless and can result in jail time and fines. Significantly, misdemeanor domestic battery charges can be filed against you even if no injury resulted from the act. For example, shoving, pulling hair, or aggressive touching can still be considered domestic battery under Indiana law.

Domestic violence defense attorneys can pursue several lines of defense in court. If the prosecutor is unable to prove just one element of the charge, the conviction cannot stand. Attorneys can also argue that the alleged battery was an accident or was committed in self-defense. In fighting your case, a domestic violence defense attorney should gather evidence, identify and prepare witnesses, and negotiate with the prosecutor to try to land on an agreeable plea.

Class A misdemeanors carry up to one year in jail as well as a $5,000 fine. In misdemeanor cases, the court has the option to suspend the penalty, meaning the defendant’s sentence is not put into effect and will remain suspended if the defendant meets certain conditions. Keffer Hirschauer LLP Indiana domestic violence defense lawyers are experienced in working with the prosecutor and judge to give their clients a second chance rather than having jail time imposed immediately.

Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys Can Fight Felony Charges

Felony domestic violence charges are generally reserved for more severe cases of violence. A felony-level Indiana domestic battery conviction can result in incarceration for anywhere from several months to 30 years. While prosecutors have some discretion over when to charge a defendant with a felony versus a misdemeanor, certain domestic violence acts are automatically considered a felony under the law. These include situations when:

  • The offender has a prior domestic violence conviction
  • The offender knowingly committed the offense in front of a child
  • The offense results in serious or moderate injury
  • The offense involved the use of a deadly weapon
  • The offense occurred while a protection order was in place
  • The victim was especially vulnerable (e.g., mental disability, pregnancy)

In Indiana, not all felonies are created equal. There are six levels of felonies, with Level 1 being the most serious and Level 6 being the least serious. If you are arrested for domestic battery, you can be charged with any level of felony except for Level 1. Indiana sentencing guidelines are codified in law and establish specific parameters for felony sentences. Level 2 felonies carry a prison sentence of ten to 30 years, while Level 6 felonies can result in six to 30 months of prison time.

A felony is the most serious level of an offense under the law and can impact you for the rest of your life. Felonies stay on your record and can harm your future forever—unless you are able to obtain an expungement—and impact your rights and opportunities even after you complete your sentence. Experienced domestic violence defense attorneys may be able to protect your rights through strategies such as pleading down your case to a misdemeanor or persuasively arguing for a more lenient sentence.

Other Legal Consequences of a Domestic Battery Conviction

While jail or prison time are certainly the most significant legal consequence of an Indiana domestic battery conviction, these are not the only potential legal consequences. A conviction can impact your legal standing in other areas of the law including immigration, child custody, firearms rights, and more.

The federal government routinely deports non-citizens who have been charged with domestic battery after they have served their sentence. If you find yourself in court fighting over child custody, the court may restrict access to your children if you have a conviction for domestic battery on your record. Defendants who have been charged with felony domestic battery lose their right to purchase, use, or carry firearms in Indiana. Finally, many domestic battery defendants are bound by a protective order, which can restrict the family members that the restrained person can see and even where they can live.

If you have been convicted, the Indianapolis domestic violence defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you navigate these legal requirements to ensure you do not violate any of the obligations or requirements resulting from your conviction and sentencing.

Collateral Consequences of a Domestic Battery Conviction

Domestic battery convictions have far-reaching consequences outside the courtroom. Once you are convicted of domestic battery, it goes on your record and can come up in a variety of different situations in your day-to-day life. For example, your conviction will show up on any routine background check, which can impact your ability to secure housing. Many landlords or property management companies have policies against housing felons or persons with domestic violence convictions.

Similarly, many employers have policies that prohibit hiring felons or persons with a history of domestic violence. In some cases, the law even prohibits employers from hiring people with criminal records for some jobs. For example, federal law prohibits people who have been convicted of serious crimes in the preceding ten years from working in airport security-related jobs.

For individuals seeking to advance their professional careers, a domestic battery conviction may impact their ability to obtain professional licensing required by the state. Many professional licensing boards such as those for cosmetology, pharmacists, teaching, or nursing may revoke or fail to renew an individual’s professional license following a domestic violence conviction.

Finally, under Indiana Code § 35-47-4-5, a domestic violence conviction makes the offender ineligible to own, possess, or carry a firearm. Further, gun rights are not automatically restored if the domestic violence conviction is expunged. Instead, five years after the conviction, the offender may file a petition to have gun rights restored.

While domestic violence defense attorneys may not be able to help combat all of these collateral consequences following a conviction, they may be able to fight for your charge to be dropped to a misdemeanor from a felony which can make a big difference in the challenges you will face down the road.

Do You Need Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys?

If you are charged with domestic battery, you face a long road and consequences that can impact you for the rest of your life. Your best chance of success is to hire an experienced attorney to help fight your charges. The Indianapolis domestic violence defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have the experience needed to provide a robust defense for you and protect your rights. To learn more about how our team of Indiana domestic violence defense lawyers can help, call (317) 648-9560, or fill out our online contact form.

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