Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic Violence Convictions Change Everything. They are not like other criminal charges.

Common domestic violence charges include:

  • Assault
  • Menacing
  • Strangulation
  • Harassment

Domestic violence charges are often misdemeanors, but with serious repercussions.


Domestic Violence Charges and Jail Time

When police respond to a domestic violence (DV) call, the result is often that someone is taken to jail. Getting released from jail can be difficult, especially if you live with or near the alleged victim. The accused will not generally be released unless he is able to pay substantial bail, pay for an ankle monitor, and live at a residence a substantial distance from the alleged victim.  No contact will usually be allowed. This means a domestic violence charge often leads to sudden family separation and no ability to communicate. Financial distress often results.

If the accused cannot meet the conditions for release, he or she will likely stay in jail until trial or guilty plea. This is by design. Release upon a guilty plea is the carrot that domestic violence prosecutors hold out to obtain convictions. Dedicated prosecution teams specialize in obtaining domestic violence convictions. When a person is held in jail, unable to work, pay his family’s bills, or communicate with loved ones, he is likely to plead guilty if it secures his release.  Very often, the sentence for domestic violence is credit for time already served in jail. However, jail is only part of the sentence.


Family Separation

Once a person is convicted of domestic violence and released from jail, he still cannot usually go home. Families sometimes rent a motel room for months, or rely on extended family to establish a separate residence.

Only after completing a substantial portion of domestic violence treatment are most convicted abusers allowed home, and only with the blessing of the district attorney or the judge.


Domestic Violence Treatment

The convicted abuser will be required to complete domestic violence and anger management treatment. The standard program is thirty-six to forty-eight weeks and requires weekly attendance. It must be paid for out-of-pocket or through insurance.  Limited courses are available, so your schedule must fit.


Child Welfare Repercussions

Domestic violence in the presence of children can constitute child abuse in Oregon. Child Welfare officials from the Department of Human Services (DHS) commonly investigate families involved in these cases. Not only are alleged abusers under scrutiny but alleged victims as well.

Child Welfare will want to know what steps are being taken to prevent future exposure to domestic violence and potentially treat for past exposure. Child Welfare officials are willing to take families to court to enforce compliance with their protocols.


Firearm Rights

Misdemeanor domestic violence convictions lead to firearm prohibitions under state and federal law. The only ways for rights to be restored are an eventual motion to set aside the conviction or a petition for firearm rights restoration.


Definitions of Domestic Violence

The Oregon Department of Human Services uses a wide-ranging definition:

“There are many definitions of domestic violence used across the Department of Human Services. Some are in statute or rule, others are definitions used in practice. All include forms of physical injury/abuse, sexual abuse or assault, intimidation, verbal abuse and emotional abuse or threats of such. These tactics are used by one adult to coerce or control another.”

Source: Oregon Department of Human Services

The statutory definition in ORS 135.230 is less sweeping than that of DHS:

“Domestic violence means abuse between family or household members.”

Abuse” means:

(a) Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing physical injury;

(b) Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly placing another in fear of imminent serious physical injury; or

(c) Committing sexual abuse in any degree…

Family or household members” means any of the following:

(a) Spouses.

(b) Former spouses.

(c) Adult persons related by blood or marriage.

(d) Persons cohabiting with each other.

(e) Persons who have cohabited with each other or who have been involved in a sexually intimate relationship.

(f) Unmarried parents of a minor child.


Defending a Domestic Violence Case

Domestic Violence charges require an attorney to get to work quickly. The attorney needs to get his client out of jail as soon as possible. The longer the accused stays locked up, the more likely he is to take a deal that gets him out of jail. The case needs to be investigated immediately. The best defense to a criminal charge is innocence. Initial police reports often get the facts wrong. Police respond to a call and have to make quick decisions in the heat of the moment. Skilled investigators are necessary for presenting the truth.

Child Welfare may also be involved early in a case. Both alleged abusers and alleged victims need an attorney with criminal and child welfare experience to look out for their best interests. Child Welfare involvement can add a new layer of stress to the family hardship that often accompanies domestic violence cases. Though the Child Welfare case is separate from the criminal case, the family is well-served by having legal representation in both areas. If things are under control as well as they can be on the home front, the accused can concentrate on doing what is best for his criminal case.


Background Checks

When a person completes probation, including an intensive treatment program, and a sufficient period of time goes by, the conviction is eligible to be set aside under the same rules as other convictions. Information about setting aside a conviction is available in the Rights Restoration section of our website.


Lohrke Law is ready to handle Your Domestic Violence case.

Jesse Lohrke is an experienced child welfare and criminal defense attorney. He has an investigative team with extensive experience in these cases. He can advise clients through all criminal and child welfare aspects of their domestic violence cases.

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