Domestic Violence

Violence between spouses, ex-spouses, people in a relationship, family members or cohabitants may be classified as domestic violence, domestic abuse or domestic battery, depending on the jurisdiction. This may involve physical, sexual or emotional abuse, as well as child endangerment, child abuse and child molestation. Spousal rape is also a form of domestic violence.

Domestic violence first became widely recognized in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s, though it is still considered one of the most underreported crimes. One particular case that increased awareness of domestic violence was the 1995 trial involving O.J. Simpson and the alleged murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Lyle Goldman. Simpson was acquitted in criminal court for the murder charges, but it was shown during the trial that he was arrested for spousal battery in 1989.

Due to media and political attention through the years, domestic violence cases are harshly penalized and aggressively investigated nationwide. Depending on the jurisdiction, the prosecuting attorney may have sole discretion in determining whether to press charges. The victim may recant their earlier complaint or may not wish to press charges, but it will be up to the prosecution to determine whether to move forward.

Penalties for Domestic Violence

Typical penalties for a domestic violence conviction include: county jail or state prison sentence, fines, anger management and counseling. Most often, an individual facing domestic violence charges will face enhanced penalties if a child was the victim. Enhanced penalties will also apply for offenders who have one or more prior domestic violence conviction on their record. Restraining orders and orders of protection are also usually involved in the case of domestic violence, and a defendant may be at risk of losing custody or visitation rights.

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