Most Georgians are currently abiding by a statewide stay-at-home order. While these extreme measures may help prevent the spread of COVID-19, they also have some unwanted consequences. A recent 11 Alive news story discussed the significant jump in domestic violence cases that have followed the shelter in place provisions of many Georgia cities and counties. Financial stress, substance abuse, and being cut off from support networks can lead to hostile and even violent domestic situations.
Of course, calling 911 is always what needs to be done in cases of immediate danger. Police are still working and responding to domestic calls. But keep in mind that when police reply to a 911 domestic violence call, they are trained to assume the worst and are coming out to arrest the perpetrator. They don't come to mediate the situation, and they do not have training in counseling or psychology for the most part.
Typically, when police reply to a domestic violence call, they arrest the alleged perpetrator for family violence battery. This can be a serious charge – leading to jail time, probation, deportation, and losing privileges to own or use a firearm for life. Many of the 911 callers later feel bad about contacting police and admit that they may have overreacted, but the decision as to whether they “press charges” is actually not up to them. The state prosecutor decides whether charges should be pursued, and as a matter of public policy, they usually do press charges. This can be an incredibly frustrating experience for both the accused and accuser, particularly when they have reconciled, want to live together, and raise children. The court process is not quick and not clear cut, so it can take months to get the legal matter straightened out, even with the help of an experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Another unfortunate situation that we have come across is when an angry ex makes a false allegation of violence to get revenge or to get the upper hand in a child custody proceeding. Out of an abundance of caution, judges are often quick to give out TPOs (temporary protective orders), which function as a restraining order with zero tolerance for contact. It can take several weeks after a TPO is issued for a hearing to be held for you to have an opportunity to defend yourself. The tragic part is that if there is any contact between you and the person who got the TPO against you, EVEN IF THEY INITIATED THE CONTACT, you are the one who will go to jail. A violation of a TPO for something as small as replying to a text message or email could lead to a serious felony charge under Georgia law called Aggravated Stalking. This is a charge that often requires prison time, and bonds are hard to get while awaiting a trial or a plea bargain to be reached.
Our Georgia Criminal Attorneys are committed to helping Georgia families with challenging legal problems. If you are facing family violence related charges, contact our office today for a free consultation. We can help you through these difficult times.