FAQs: Indiana Laws on Domestic Battery
The Indiana laws on domestic battery are clear: this is a serious crime that can lead to harsh criminal penalties for those convicted. Given this, it’s vital that all Hoosiers have some understanding of what constitutes domestic battery in Indiana, the severity of the potential criminal charges associated with such actions, and whether or not a domestic battery charge can be expunged in Indiana.
This post will address those topics, among others, and address some of the most frequently asked questions about the offense, in general. However, those currently facing a domestic battery charge in Indiana would be wise to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. These types of charges have the potential to completely alter one’s life and therefore should be addressed as soon as possible.
If you’re in need of legal representation, do not hesitate to contact the skilled and experienced Indianapolis domestic battery lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our attorneys have successfully defended cases of this nature in the past, and can craft an aggressive, effective defense strategy on your behalf. To avoid the lifelong repercussions that are often associated with those accused of domestic battery, contact our firm today by calling 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
What is Domestic Battery in Indiana?
Indiana law defines domestic battery under Indiana Code 35-42-2-1.3. At its core, domestic battery involves knowingly or intentionally touching a family or household member in a manner that is rude, insolent, or angry. This definition encompasses a range of behaviors, from physical assault to more subtle forms of aggressive contact. It’s important to understand that domestic battery is not limited to physical harm; it can also include actions like spitting or throwing an object at a family member.
When determining whether a person committed battery or domestic battery in Indiana, courts will refer to the definition of “Family or Household Member,” contained in Indiana Code 35-31.5-2-128. Under this definition, a person is a family or household member of another person if they are:
- A current or former spouse of the other person
- Currently dating or have dated the other person
- Engaged in or have been engaged in a sexual relationship with the other person
- Related by blood or adoption to the other person
- Related or were related by marriage to the other person
- Have or previously had an established legal relationship with the other person, including being a guardian, ward, custodian, foster parent, or any other similar type of relationship
- Have a child in common with the other person
Is Domestic Battery a Felony in Indiana?
Yes, under some circumstances, domestic battery is a felony in Indiana. Although, initially, this offense is considered a Class A misdemeanor, it can be elevated to a felony charge if certain elements of the crime warrant such action. These are the conditions under which domestic battery escalates to a felony in Indiana:
Level 6 Felony: This charge applies if the offender has a prior battery or strangulation conviction or if it results in moderate bodily injury to the victim. It also applies if the victim is less than 14 years old and the offender is at least 18 years of age, or if the victim has a mental or physical disability, and the offender is responsible for their care. Finally, a person may be charged with a Level 6 felony for domestic battery in Indiana if the victim is a family or household member who has been issued an active protection order that protects them from them from the offender or while a no contact order is in place.
Level 5 Felony: The charge escalates to this level if the offense results in serious bodily injury to the victim, a deadly weapon is used, or the victim is pregnant, and the offender knew of the pregnancy. Additionally, under the Indiana laws on domestic battery, the offender may be charged with a Level 5 felony if they have a prior conviction for a battery offense against the same victim; or if the offense results in bodily injury to a child under 14 years of age, a victim with a mental or physical disability, or an endangered adult.
Level 4 Felony: This level applies when serious bodily injury occurs to an endangered adult. As prescribed by Indiana Code 12-10-3-2(b), an endangered adult means an individual who is at least 18 years old and is incapable by reason of mental illness, intellectual disability, dementia, or other physical or mental incapacity, of managing/directing the management of their property or providing/directing the provision of self-care.
Level 3 Felony: Under the Indiana laws on domestic battery, a person may be charged with a Level 3 felony when serious bodily injury occurs to a child under 14 years of age. Serious bodily injury, as defined in Indiana Code 35-31.5-2-292, includes any injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement; unconsciousness; extreme pain; permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of bodily member or organ; or loss of a fetus.
Level 2 Felony: Under the most serious circumstances, a person may be charged with a Level 2 felony for domestic battery. This may occur if the offense results in the death of a child under 14 years of age or an endangered adult.
What are the Indiana Laws on Domestic Battery in the Presence of a Child?
The Indiana laws on domestic battery place a special emphasis on protecting children. So much so that even committing an innocuous act of domestic battery in the mere presence of a child under the age of 16 could result in Level 6 felony charges. This law reflects the state’s commitment to protecting children from the traumatic impact of witnessing acts of domestic violence.
It’s important to note that, regardless of how injurious the specific act of battery was, those convicted of domestic battery in the presence of a child in Indiana could face a sentence of up to 2.5 years in prison. Furthermore, a person convicted of this offense may incur fines of up to $10,000 and suffer a variety of collateral consequences that could impact their life for years to come.
What are the Potential Penalties for Domestic Battery in Indiana?
The penalties for domestic battery in Indiana vary depending on the level of the felony or misdemeanor charged. It’s important to understand these potential penalties, as they highlight the seriousness of the offense and the need for competent legal defense.
If you are currently facing criminal charges stemming from domestic battery in Indiana and need legal representation, the Indiana domestic battery lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are available to assist you. To speak with an attorney about your case today, call 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Domestic Battery Convictions and Collateral Consequences
While a prison sentence may be the most significant legal consequence of a domestic battery conviction in Indiana, it’s not the only consequence an offender will face. Like with all other felony convictions, the existence of a criminal record can impact a person’s standing in many other areas of their life. For instance, if a person convicted of domestic battery later finds themself in court fighting over child custody, the court may restrict their access to their children. In other scenarios, a domestic battery conviction could result in protective order being entered against the offender, thus restricting them from being around family or residing in their home.
Domestic battery convictions may also result in professional setbacks. For example, licensed professionals who are convicted of domestic battery risk having sanctions placed upon their professional license in Indiana; and in cases involving felony domestic battery, they may even have their license suspended or revoked. In these types of situations, it’s best to work with a criminal defense attorney who also has experience in matters involving the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency.
Domestic Battery and Firearms
While all felons are stripped of their right to purchase, use, or carry firearms, the Indiana laws on domestic violence also prohibit those convicted of domestic battery from possessing a firearm. This even includes individuals convicted of domestic battery as a Class A misdemeanor.
Under Indiana Code 35-47-4-6, a person who has been convicted of domestic battery and who knowingly or intentionally possesses a firearm commits unlawful possession of a firearm in Indiana, a Class A misdemeanor. However, as provided by this section of law, it is an appropriate defense that the person had their right to possess a firearm restored under Indiana Code 25-47-4-7.
The process of restoring gun rights in Indiana, especially following a domestic battery conviction, is complicated and slow. First, as stated in Indiana Code 25-47-4-7, a person convicted of domestic battery must wait five years from the date of their conviction to even petition the court. Then, once eligible, they must file the petition with the court where their conviction occurred and serve the prosecutor of the relevant county. On top of that, in order to have their gun rights restored, the petition must adequately demonstrate, among other things, that the person is no longer a threat to the victim in their case and that there is no other reason for why they should not be able to possess a firearm.
Given the importance of matters of this nature, engaging the services of a gun rights restoration attorney in Indiana is highly recommended. These types of requests require delicate and strict statutory compliance and are best undertaken with the help of an attorney who knows exactly what is required to restore a person’s gun rights and the legal experience to get that done.
Can a Domestic Battery Charge be Expunged in Indiana?
Yes, a person with a domestic battery charge on their criminal record in Indiana can have it expunged. However, they’ll need to follow the relevant procedures and protocols for expungement outlined in Indiana Code 35-38-9-1. Generally, this means waiting one year following the arrest before filing the petition for expungement in Indiana, provided the petitioner meets all the eligibility requirements.
Individuals may also petition to have domestic battery convictions expunged in Indiana. However, the procedure is more involved and requires the petitioner to fulfill a longer waiting period. For instance, those convicted of domestic battery as a Class A misdemeanor would need to wait five years before petitioning for expungement; while those convicted of a Level 6 felony would need to wait eight years. In addition, they would need to meet all other conditions required for expungement under Indiana law.
It is important to note, however, that while expungement may restore the gun rights of other felons, it does not restore the gun rights of individuals convicted under the Indiana laws on domestic battery. As noted in the previous section, a person convicted of domestic battery will need to petition the court under Indiana Code 25-47-4-7, in order to restore their gun rights, even if their conviction has already been expunged.
Facing Charges Under the Indiana Laws on Domestic Battery?
If you are currently facing battery charges in Indiana, you have a long road ahead of you. The criminal penalties and collateral consequences that accompany a conviction this serious have the potential to impact you for the rest of your life. In order to provide yourself with the best chance of securing an optimal outcome in this matter, you’ll want to hire an experienced and aggressive Indianapolis criminal defense attorney
The Indianapolis domestic battery lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have the experience needed to protect your rights and provide you with a robust defense. But remember, the stakes are high, and prosecutors are already creating their case against you; so it’s best to act now. To speak with an attorney about this matter today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.