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Domestic violence is a serious offense that is not taken lightly in Louisiana. Law enforcement takes active steps to ensure that victims are protected from such violence at their homes. Due to the nature of the alleged crime, law enforcement officials often arrest an accused even before a proper investigation is done. This is often problematic since an accurate investigation is necessary to determine whether a crime has indeed occurred and the person charged has committed such a crime.

Given the penalties and implications of being charged and possibly convicted of a domestic abuse battery offense, it is essential for an accused to have a dependable criminal lawyer to ensure that their interest is protected and represented in the court of law.

What is Domestic Abuse Battery?

Louisiana Revised Statute 14:35.3 defines domestic abuse battery as “an intentional use of force or violence committed by one household member or family member upon the person of another household member or a family member.”

Simply put, the law recognizes domestic abuse battery if someone intentionally commits any force or violence towards their family or household member.

Who is Considered Family Members or Household Members in Louisiana?

Under the Louisiana Statute, family members include:

  • spouses, whether they be present or former;
  • child, whether they are biological, a stepchild, or a foster child; and
  • parents, whether they are biological, stepparent, or foster parents.

Whereas household members are defined as any individual that is:

  • presently or formerly living in the same residence as the offender, and who is either involved or been involved with the offender in an intimate or sexual relationship; or
  • A child of the offender, regardless if they live or do not live with the offender.

How are Domestic Abuse Battery Charges Classified?

Under Louisiana laws, domestic abuse battery charges are placed in two different categories – misdemeanor and felony charges.

Generally, first and second domestic abuse battery offenses are classified as misdemeanors.

However, specific allegations can enhance the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony charge.

Moreover, multiple convictions for domestic abuse battery elevates the misdemeanor charge to a felony charge.

What Circumstances Can Elevate a Misdemeanor Charge to a Felony?

Specific circumstances of a domestic abuse incident can add heavier penalties to the offender. Such circumstances include:

  • If the victim is pregnant and the offender knew of the victim’s pregnancy;
  • If the victim is burned or strangled;
  • If a child was present during the attack.

What Are the Possible Penalties in a Domestic Abuse Battery Misdemeanor Conviction?

The first and second conviction of a domestic abuse battery is classified as a misdemeanor. However, the penalties for the first and second convictions are not necessarily the same, even though they are categorized as misdemeanors.

The first conviction for a domestic abuse battery offense is punishable by:

  • Imposing a fine of $300 or up to $1,000; and
  • Imprisonment of 30 days or up to six months, of which at least 48 hours must be served without parole, probation, or suspension. Moreover, the remainder of the sentence cannot be suspended unless the offender is:
    • placed on probation with a minimum of four-day jail time and complete a court-mandated domestic abuse intervention program, and the offender would not own or possess any firearm during the entirety of the sentence; or
    • Placed on probation with a minimum condition that they perform an 8-hour workday for eight days for court-approved community service activities and complete a court-mandated domestic abuse program, and that the offender would not own or possess any firearm during the entirety of the sentence.

While the second conviction for a domestic abuse battery offense is punishable by:

  • Imposing a fine of $750 or up to $1,000; and
  • Imprisonment of at least 60 days or up to one year.

In addition to the state penalties listed above, federal law imposes that individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse battery would be prohibited from possessing firearms even after their sentence has been completed. Moreover, they may be subject to deportation or inadmissibility to the United States.

What Are the Possible Penalties in a Domestic Abuse Battery Felony Conviction?

A third domestic abuse battery conviction or elevated first or second domestic abuse battery conviction is classified as a felony.

Felony convictions for domestic abuse battery are punished with a mandatory sentence of at least one and can be up to five years.

In addition to the state penalties listed above, federal law imposes that individuals convicted of felony domestic abuse battery would be prohibited from possessing firearms even after completing their sentence. Moreover, immigrants may be subject to deportation or inadmissibility to the United States.

Are There Any Defenses Against Domestic Abuse Battery Charges?

Yes, there are defenses available to the accused against domestic abuse battery charges.

Some of these defenses may include self-defense, the accused did not commit the crime or false allegation.

For self-defense, the accused may reason that their infliction of force or violence is an act to defend themselves, another family, or household member from the same violence and force from the accuser.

It is also possible that the accuser has fabricated the allegations made against the accused. Thus, the accuser may use this as a defense against the charge.

Moreover, since the prosecutor has the burden to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, it might be the case that the prosecutor has a weak case, where their investigation cannot prove that the accused had committed the crime.

Domestic violence is a serious matter that affects all parties involved, including vulnerable individuals such as children and pregnant women. However, preserving the integrity of the case is critical in ensuring that proper domestic violence charges and penalties are implemented. Thus, a qualified legal representation is needed if you are accused of such serious charges.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a domestic abuse situation in Louisiana, you should speak with us. Our experienced criminal attorneys have extensive knowledge in handling domestic abuse situations and can fully represent your interest in this matter. Please feel free to give us a call at (225) 963-9638, or you can go to our website at  www.messerfirm.com to schedule a consultation.