Facing Domestic Violence charges in Cleveland?

Crimes of domestic violence are a very serious and pervasive problem and carry severe legal and social penalties that can affect the rest of your life. Millions of people are affected by domestic violence. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

A person accused of domestic violence can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony and be subject to significant fines, jail time, community service, and counseling, depending on the circumstances of the situation and prior criminal history. A person can be charged with domestic violence even if the alleged victim has no physical injuries.

This is a complicated area of law and one that an experienced lawyer can help you navigate.


How Is The Crime Of Domestic Violence Defined In Ohio?

The Ohio Revised Code (ORC) defines domestic violence as knowingly or recklessly causing harm to a family or household member, or threatening or attempting to use physical force to harm a family or household member.

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Types Of Domestic Violence Crimes

  • Threat of violence
  • Reckless harm (an action that does not necessarily intend to inflict harm, but does so)
  • Intentional harm

There are other circumstances that can result in a charge of domestic violence:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Controlling or intimidating behaviors, such as not letting your intimate partner socialize with other people, prohibiting a partner from contacting family, taking your partner’s cell phone away, threatening suicide if your partner ever tries to leave
  • Menacing
  • Aggravated menacing
  • Menacing by stalking, including the use of electronic media to conduct this behavior
  • Aggravated trespass
  • History of violence towards victim
  • Possession of a deadly weapon
  • Violating a protection order
  • Victimizing a minor (physical, sexual or mental injury); forcing a minor to engage in a sexual performance or appear in sexually explicit material
  • Rape
  • Sexual battery


What Happens Once A Law Enforcement Officer Is Called To The Scene?

A domestic violence case most often starts with a call to 911. In Ohio, police have been granted broad authority in determining at the scene whether domestic violence has occurred and if an arrest is necessary. They do not need a warrant to arrest someone on a charge of domestic violence. People are often very surprised at the serious effects calling the police in may have.

Once the police arrive on the scene, they will conduct a very preliminary investigation to try to determine what has occurred. They will look into whether the alleged perpetrator has any history of domestic violence, take down the statement of witnesses, observe the severity of the injuries to any of the parties, if any, or if a protection order was violated. The most likely scenario is that they will arrest the alleged perpetrator, even if the individuals involved claim that the domestic dispute was minor, and nothing further needs to be done. People can and do end up being arrested and charged as a result of a minor domestic dispute. Sometimes multiple people are charged and arrested. It is important to note that once a charge has been filed, it cannot be withdrawn.

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What Happens If I Am Arrested And Charged?

If the police on the scene determine that you were the aggressor in a domestic violence incident, you will be arrested on the spot. There are immediate consequences as a result of the arrest:

  • You will be sent to jail
  • You will spend time in jail until brought before a judge
  • You will not have a bail set until you see the judge
  • You will be prohibited from contacting the alleged victim by the issuance of a Temporary Protective Order (TPO)
  • Your right to possess a firearm will be revoked
  • Any firearms you have will be confiscated until the case is resolved


What Are The Next Steps After Being Arrested And Sent To Jail?

At your first court appearance, you will be formally advised of the charges against you. It is strongly urged that you call an attorney specializing in domestic violence as soon as possible. A charge of domestic violence is very serious, and it is best to go through the legal process with a lawyer at your side.

Often, but not always, your domestic violence lawyer will try to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor which will include having you plead guilty in exchange for either a lesser charge, less severe penalties, or both. If a plea bargain is not offered or you decide to refuse it, the next step in the process is going to trial.

It is important to note that once law enforcement and the courts are involved, it will probably take a long time for the case to be resolved. Whether you are guilty or not, your reputation may be irreparably harmed in the community and in your workplace. Take these charges seriously.


What Will A Domestic Violence Lawyer Do?

In order to determine the best strategy going forward, a criminal defense lawyer will:

  • examine the statements you made at the time of your arrest, and the statements made by others
  • ascertain if the alleged victim appeared or still appears to be traumatized or fearful
  • assess whether what you say happened is corroborated or refuted by evidence
  • look into any evidence of injuries, such as photographs or doctor reports
  • watch the recordings of the police interview and determine if law enforcement did things “by the book”
  • check into your past to ascertain if this is the first time you were involved in something like this, or if you have a prior domestic violence charge


What Are Some Possible Defenses Used To Refute A Domestic Violence Claim?


At trial, your lawyer may claim that you were falsely accused, and the claims made against you were complete fabrications. Your attorney may bring up that your alleged accuser has a grudge against you or wants to get revenge, and that he/she exaggerated the story of what happened — or even made it up entirely. Your lawyer might claim that the alleged victim actually injured himself/herself, and accused you to “get back” at you for something.


Another possible defense used in domestic violence cases is that the alleged perpetrator was actually acting in self-defense. Again, your lawyer will examine your statement as well as those of any witnesses, and see if there is any evidence to support this claim.


A defense that claims that the injuries suffered by the alleged victim were the result of an accident, and you did nothing wrong or reckless that resulted in the injuries.


Your lawyer may claim that the prosecution has not reached the burden of proof needed to convict you of the crime of domestic violence. Perhaps the entire case against you relies on the statements of the alleged victim, but cannot be corroborated by others. Maybe the alleged victim has no injuries or evidence of injuries that back up their allegations of what happened.

Each domestic violence case is unique. You need to contact a lawyer who specializes in domestic violence cases as soon as possible after you are arrested in order to preserve your rights and get the best resolution possible for your case.

Cleveland, Ohio Crimes of Domestic Violence Attorney Near You

Charged with a crime of domestic violence? If you are unsure of what to do next and need help navigating the complicated Ohio domestic violence laws, contact The Botnick Law Firm today for a free case evaluation. Your future is at stake. Call us now to get the help you deserve. An experienced Cleveland domestic violence lawyer can help get you through this. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.


Process step-by-step

  • 01.
    Initial Arrest

    01. Initial Arrest

    The process to charge someone that’s been accused of a crime begins with an arrest. If the police have reason to believe that someone has committed a crime, the accused can be taken into custody. Police will usually start by asking basic questions like name and address to identify a person, and then they’ll often pivot to more specific questions related to the incident. At some point during this, you should have been read your “Miranda warnings.”

  • 02.
    Reading Your Rights

    02. Reading Your Rights

    You have the right to remain silent to avoid disclosing evidence that could potentially be self-incriminating, as well as the right to an attorney to defend you in court. Those are your unwavering rights that must be recited upon taking someone into custody. Take note of when these rights are read to you, as it could be helpful information for your attorney.

  • 03.

    03. Booking

    When you’ve been taken down to the station, police will fingerprint you and get your photograph to update their records. Once this is done, you should be granted the opportunity to contact your criminal defense lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, get a loved one to book a consultation with a lawyer on your behalf. It’s important that you do NOT disclose any details about your case over the phone with your loved ones, as those calls are monitored.

  • 04.

    04. Investigation

    After you’ve made it through the booking process, the police may begin conducting their investigation with you. Depending on the situation, this might include a personal search, collecting samples, interviewing/interrogating, police lineups, etc.

  • 05.
    Court Appearance

    05. Court Appearance

    You’ll be held at the station until you can be brought before a judge. The initial court appearance will happen within 48 hours or less of the arrest. Here, the judge will review the case and decide if there’s any reason to keep you in holding or if bail can be granted. If bail is granted, you’re allowed to be released upon certain conditions.

  • 06.

    06. Hearing

    Depending on the seriousness of your allegations, you may have a preliminary hearing at which a judge can determine whether enough evidence exists to charge you with that level of crime. You’ll be able to plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” If you plead not guilty, your case will be sent to trial. You may get the opportunity to enter a plea deal. That’s something your attorney will advise you on.

  • 07.

    07. Discovery

    In the discovery stage, the case against you is made much more transparent. The prosecutor will share the evidence they have against you with your defense attorney. During this time, your attorney can make additional requests for evidence if need be. All of the evidence on the table will be considered, and your lawyer will work with you to form the best plan for your defense.

  • 08.

    08. Trial

    If a plea deal is unable to be reached, the case will enter trial. During the trial, the prosecutor begins by presenting the case to the jury. They share any evidence they have against you and have witnesses make their statements for the prosecution. This can be tough to sit through. Afterward, it’s your lawyer’s turn to take the stands and share your side of the story. Your lawyer can question the prosecutor’s witnesses and all of the evidence that was used against you. There are many different strategies that your lawyer will use to defend you during the trial.

  • 09.

    09. Sentencing

    In a best-case scenario, you will have been found not guilty by the end of the trial, and the charges against you have been dropped. If you are found guilty, the judge must determine what your sentence/penalties will be. The sentencing will happen at another hearing, usually a few weeks after your trial ends.

Ohio Felony Sentencing

Prison TIme
Maximum Fine
First Degree
3-11 years
Second Degree
2-8 years
Third Degree
9-36 or 12-60 months
Fourth Degree
6-8 months
Fifth Degree
6-12 months

Ohio Misdemeanor Sentencing

Jail Time
Maximum Fine
First Degree
Up to 180 days
Second Degree
Up to 90 days
Third Degree
Up to 60 days
Fourth Degree
Up to 30 days
Minor Misdemeanor

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered domestic violence in Ohio?

Domestic violence in Ohio involves acts of violence or threatening acts of violence against family or another household member such as a spouse, former spouse, romantic partner, child, or extended family member.

Is domestic violence a felony in Ohio?

Depending on the particular details of the instance, domestic violence can either be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor in Ohio. Felony charges are significantly more serious than misdemeanor ones, but either will have a lasting impact on someone’s life if they are convicted.

Can a domestic violence case be dropped?

No, due to the nature of domestic violence charges, once the prosecutor’s office has issued the charge, the alleged victim is not able to drop the charges.

Ohio Courts System

We have successfully represented clients across Northern Ohio. If you are facing criminal charges, we can help you too. Don’t delay. The district attorney is building their case against you right now.

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