Indianapolis Domestic Battery Lawyers
Facing Domestic Battery Charges in Indiana
When someone makes domestic battery allegations against you, it is easy to get automatically labeled as an abusive spouse or an abusive girlfriend or boyfriend. However, there are two sides to every story, and no one should make any conclusion about your guilt until you have been given the chance to properly defend yourself court. To avoid the lifelong repercussions of an Indiana domestic battery allegation, you need help from an experienced domestic battery defense attorney.
With Keffer Hirschauer LLP on your side, our Indianapolis domestic violence lawyers can create an aggressive, effective, and persuasive defense strategy on your behalf. We work tirelessly and persistently to help reduce, dismiss, or acquit the battery charges made against you. Act today by calling our legal team.
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Defining Indiana Domestic Battery
Indiana domestic violence and domestic battery are often used interchangeably. Domestic violence can include a wide variety of offenses against a spouse, partner, or family member, including stalking, invasion of privacy, kidnapping, criminal confinement, or even murder.
Domestic Battery Meaning
Indiana uses the term “domestic battery” to define the criminal offense involving battery on a family or household member. The basic crime is a misdemeanor, but it may be enhanced to a felony in various ways.
Under Indiana Code § 35-42-2-1.3, domestic battery is a battery offense that is committed against a person who fits one of the following categories:
- Is or was the offender’s spouse
- A person the offender was living with as if the two individuals were spouses
- A person with whom the offender shares a child
When determining whether two individuals lived together as if they were spouses, the following factors are considered:
- How long the relationship lasted
- The frequency of contact between the individuals
- How financially interdependent the individuals were
- Whether the individuals were raising a child or children together
- Whether the individuals carried out actions for the purpose of maintaining a common household
Indiana domestic battery is a serious offense with serious consequences for the defendant. Finding the right attorney for your defense is critical to your future.
The Elements of Indiana Domestic Battery
For a conviction, the prosecution is required to prove several elements for a conviction of misdemeanor domestic battery beyond a reasonable doubt.
First, the prosecution must establish the relationship between the alleged offender and victim as being either family members or household members.
Second, the prosecution must show that the alleged offender touched or placed bodily fluid or waste on the victim.
Third, the prosecution must show the alleged offender’s mens rea or state of mind. Specifically, there can be no conviction unless the alleged offender knew or intentionally touched or placed bodily fluid or waste on the victim.
Fourth, the touching must have been done in a rude, insolent, or angry manner. The court has interpreted “rude” to mean offensive in manner or action and “insolent” to mean presumptuous and insulting, audaciously rude or disrespectful, or impertinent. If the State is unable to prove even one of these elements, the defendant will be acquitted.
Domestic Battery: Misdemeanor or Felony?
Under the Indiana domestic battery statute, the base offense is a misdemeanor, but the offense becomes a Level 6 felony if any one of the following applies:
- The defendant has a previous conviction for:
- The offense was committed in the physical presence of a child less than sixteen years of age, “knowing that the child was present and might be able to see or hear the offense”
- The touching results in moderate bodily injury to the victim
- The defendant is at least 18 and the victim is under 14 years old
- The victim has a mental or physical disability and the defendant has the care of that victim
- The victim is an endangered adult
The offense will be further elevated to a Level 5 felony under any one of these circumstances:
- The victim suffers serious bodily injury
- The offense is committed with a deadly weapon
- The victim is pregnant, the defendant knows of the pregnancy, and the victim suffers bodily injury
- The defendant has a previous battery conviction against the same victim
- The victim suffers bodily injury and is under 14, has a mental or physical disability and the defendant is the caregiver, or the victim is an endangered adult
The felony-level is even further enhanced for serious bodily injury to a victim under 14 or an endangered adult or if the offense results in the victim’s death.
Penalties for Indiana Domestic Battery
Convictions for domestic battery have a wide range of potential penalties. The basic offense of domestic battery is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a potential sentence of up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. It’s important to note that under Indiana Code § 35-50-3-1, the sentence for a Class A misdemeanor may be suspended by the court. Additionally, for a misdemeanor offense, the offender may be entitled to probation. The combined term of the sentence and probation may not exceed one year.
If the offense is a Level 6 felony, the lowest level of felony in Indiana, the defendant may be sentenced to between six months and three years in prison and fined up to $10,000. The sentence for a Level 5 felony is between one and six years, plus a fine of up to $10,000. More serious felonies merit even more serious sentences, with the maximum, for a Level 2 felony, being between ten and thirty years and a fine of $10,000.
Felony convictions carry serious additional consequences, affecting parenting time or custody matters and impacting the ability to vote, carry firearms, and work in certain professions. A foreign immigrant is likely subject to removal or deportation. And, for any person, time spent in jail can be devastating to a career and family relationships. For these reasons, you need immediate assistance from a law firm dedicated to criminal defense work. In Indianapolis, that firm is Keffer Hirschauer LLP.
What Happens in Indiana Domestic Battery Cases
The first step in a domestic battery case usually involves information-gathering. Your criminal defense attorney will investigate the allegations, the victim, and the witnesses to look for holes in the State’s case. Again, the State is required to prove all of the elements of the domestic battery offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced domestic battery defense attorney will thoroughly examine all the facts and evaluate the prosecutor’s likelihood of success on each factor of the offense. Because the prosecution bears the burden of proof, if one factor is missing, the entire case collapses.
The State will have to prove its case before a jury of your peers. For this stage, your best chance is with a domestic battery defense attorney with a proven track record in trial. You’ll find those attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP, where we are committed to protecting your Constitutional rights and aggressively fighting for an acquittal.
If your attorney’s investigation reveals weaknesses in the State’s case, your attorney may explore plea bargain options. Dropping from a felony charge to a misdemeanor charge limits the potential sentence, opens the possibility of serving no jail time, and may also impact your job and your civil rights. A real weakness may result in dismissal of the charge altogether.
Potential Defenses to Indiana Domestic Battery Charges
In addition to making sure the prosecutor can produce legally admissible evidence of every element of the offense, your Indiana domestic battery defense attorney will explore potential defenses with you. Sometimes, events surrounding the alleged domestic battery lessen the consequences of the defendant’s conduct. In short, certain defenses lessen or eliminate the consequences even if the State can prove all of the elements of domestic battery. Defenses often seen in domestic battery cases are:
- Self-defense: The injury to the alleged victim was actually the result of the defendant attempting to protect him- or herself from an attack by the victim
- Battered spouse defense: The defendant was actually the victim of long-time abuse by the domestic partner, whether or not married, and the injury inflicted on the domestic partner was the result of Battered Spouse Syndrome
- Accident: The victim’s injury was accidental instead of the result of intentional or knowing conduct
A defendant who asserts any of these or other defenses bears the burden of proof, meaning he or she must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the circumstances alleged in the defense. You need a lawyer who will gather the necessary evidence and witnesses to effectively use such a defense in plea bargaining or in court.
What will you receive as our client?
If you’re facing an Indiana domestic battery charge, you’re in good hands with a domestic battery defense attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys balance their overall knowledge of effective criminal defense practices with the individual treatment and handling each case’s needs.
Working with a criminal defense attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP, you receive the following:
- A FREE, initial case consultation
- Years of combined trial experience on your side
- A team with a proven record of results
- Effective defense strategies
- Knowledgeable legal counsel
- Advocacy from former deputy prosecutors
Keffer Hirschauer LLP: Indianapolis Domestic Battery Defense Lawyer
If you have been arrested for or charged with an Indiana domestic battery offense in Indianapolis or elsewhere in the state, don’t wait another moment to get the help you need. The stakes are high, and prosecutors and police officers are already creating their case against you. To know your legal rights and pursue the most effective strategy for your particular case, contact the experienced Indianapolis domestic battery defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. You can reach us by using this online contact form or by calling (317) 648-9560 for a FREE consultation.