One of the unfortunate side effects of the stay-at-home measures imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic has been an increase in the number of arrests for domestic abuse battery. Louisiana is not alone in the increase as places all over the world have seen a rise in domestic violence complaints. While there is no excuse for domestic violence, and no reason anyone should be physically, sexually, or emotionally abusing anyone in his or her household, if you or a loved have been accused of domestic abuse battery there are some things you should know about the charges and possible penalties.
Definition of Domestic Abuse Battery
Louisiana law defines domestic abuse battery as the intentional use of force or violence committed by one household member or family member upon the person of another household member or family member. The term “family member” means a spouse, former spouse, parent, child, stepparent, stepchild, foster parent, and foster child. A “household member” is defined as any person presently or formerly living in the same residence with the offender and who is involved or has been involved in a sexual or intimate relationship with the offender, or any child presently or formerly living in the same residence with the offender, or any child of the offender regardless of where the child resides. There is a similar offense in Louisiana for battery of a dating partner that includes any person who is involved or has been involved in a sexual or intimate relationship with the offender, regardless of whether the person presently lives or formerly lived in the same residence with the offender.
Possible Sentences for a Domestic Violence Conviction
Sentences for a domestic violence conviction in Louisiana can include fines, jail time, probation, court-ordered classes, and community service and can have other lasting effects such as restrictions on the right own a firearm. In Louisiana domestic abuse can be a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances involved in the abuse and whether the defendant has prior convictions for the same charge.
A first conviction for domestic abuse battery carries a fine of $300 – $1,000 and imprisonment of 30-days to six months. A second conviction carries a fine of $750 – $1,000 and jail time of 60-days to one year. Most of the jail time can be probated under conditions requiring court-approved classes and community service. While a first and second offense are classified as misdemeanors, domestic abuse battery is an enhanceable offense in Louisiana meaning that multiple convictions can result in felony charges with more severe penalties. For example, a third conviction carries a sentence of one to five years with a mandatory minimum of one year. There are circumstances in which a first offense can be considered a felony such as if the victim was pregnant, there were children under 13 present, or the abuse involved burning or strangulation. Domestic abuse aggravated assault is always a felony and carries sentences ranging from one to five years of jail time.
Domestic abuse battery charges can have other long-term consequences. Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse violence from possessing a firearm. Louisiana State law prohibits possession of a firearm after conviction of certain grades of domestic abuse battery. Domestic abuse battery convictions are also often used by one spouse against another in divorce or custody proceedings. Domestic violence charges can also have severe immigration consequences such as making someone deportable from or inadmissible to the United States.
Defending Against Domestic Abuse Charges
Domestic abuse battery is a serious charge in Louisiana. If you or a loved one have been accused of domestic abuse battery, you should speak with an experienced Louisiana criminal defense attorney about your options and possible defenses. At Rusty Messer & Associates we’ve handled numerous cases involving domestic violence. We’ve seen many cases that involved self-defense, false accusations, or simply misunderstandings between what actually happened and what the police officer put in the report. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys in Baton Rouge call (225) 963-9638.