Family Violence

By Terry Barlow

If you are charged with misdemeanor assault on a family member, there are several things you should know.  First of all, this offense is classified as a Class A misdemeanor and carries up to one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.  If you plead or are found guilty, probation is possible, and even likely if you have a good lawyer and if you have no prior convictions.  Keep in mind, however, that most counties have a ‘no-drop policy’ on family violence cases, meaning that once the case is filed with the local district or county attorney’s office, the case will not be dismissed even if the injured party wishes to drop the charge.

Typically, if both the injured party and the accused wish for the case to be resolved without a trial or probation, they must each participate and complete several programs in order for the charges to be reduced or dismissed.  Often this will include the injured party taking a class which centers on avoiding being a victim of family violence and is usually coupled with an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution, where the injured party gives reasons under oath as to why prosecution is no longer desired.  The accused also must complete classes, such as an Anger Control class or a lengthier and in-depth Batterer’s Intervention program, and may also have to undergo drug testing and complete some community service.  Once these are complete, the charge may be reduced to a Class C misdemeanor (the same level as a traffic ticket) or dismissed altogether.  Keep in mind that these types of agreements may not always be available and must be negotiated between the defense attorney and the prosecutor, and must ultimately be approved by the judge.

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