Most people are familiar with what a Simple Battery charge entails. At least on the surface, most people believe that they know what actions will support a simple battery. However, many times I have had clients ask whey they were charged with Family Violence if they were just living with their boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé. Sometimes as a part of being arrested for Simple Battery, my clients have found themselves charged with Family Violence and/or Domestic Violence and have questioned how that is possible. Or, even worse, have questioned how they were charged with Cruelty to Children when they never touched their child.
Lets start with the basics and work our way up to particularization of the charges. Many people don't realize that the crime of Simple Battery can happen to anyone, including police officers. The offense of Simple Battery is defined by the statute from O.C.G.A. 16-5-23 and Battery is defined in O.C.G.A. 16-5-23.1. In part, these statute states that a person commits the offense of simple battery when they intentionally make physical contact of insulting or provoking nature or causes harm to another.
During these events, however, if the child views or is in the same room as what happens you can also be charged with cruelty to children in the third degree. O.C.G.A. 16-5-70 contains the information explaining how someone can be charged for Cruelty to children. One of the subsections of that statute states that if a child witnesses a battery or family violence battery, then the person who is causing the battery to occur can be charged with cruelty to children in the third degree. If the danger and situation that the child was placed into by these events is dangerous enough, as determined by investigators, then the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) may become involved and he may also be additionally charged under the child abuse statutes O.C.G.A. Title 19 chapter 15. This type of investigation would be mandated by the Georgia Office of the Child Advocate (who would report to DFCS).
Moving forward, now lets look at why you can be charged under Family Violence. If we review
Of course there are facts to every case where defenses can be raised for anyone charged with the crimes of Simple Battery or Battery. O.C.G.A. 16-5-23 subsection (f) we would see the following: If the offense of battery is committed between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household, then such offense shall constitute the offense of family violence battery. This is a liberal construction and shows that all that is required at a minimum is that you get into a physical altercation with someone with whom you are living. Each situation is different from the other and requires a evaluation of all the information in order to properly mount a defense and a effective negotiation with the prosecutors office.