In Ohio, domestic violence is unlike any other criminal law in that there is an official preferred arrest policy in place. First of all, let's understand what we mean by domestic violence. Domestic violence is basically to cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member. A family or household member could be a spouse, a person living as a spouse, children, or even brothers or sisters. The preferred arrest policy means that if the police receive a call which is characterized as a domestic violence incident, there is a preferred policy that they make an arrest. Unfortunately, the preferred arrest policy is interpreted by most police officers to mean that if they get a call that is characterized as a domestic incident, then somebody has to go to jail regardless of the circumstances. This can happen even if there is very little evidence and the victim is saying they don’t want to press charges and don’t want the other person arrested.
Domestic violence is also different from many other crimes in that many courts have a bond schedule established for misdemeanor offenses which means, a bond is already set so that when a person is arrested, they can post it and get out of jail immediately. In domestic violence cases, however, many courts require the person must be brought before a judge for bond to be set. This results in the person sitting in jail at least one day to three days before a bond can be set and they can get out of jail.
Another factor that arises in domestic violence cases is the issuance of protective orders. When an arrest is made for domestic violence, the Court may issue a Temporary Protection Order, which will bar the Defendant from having any contact with the victim, their residence or their work place. Many courts will issue these orders even if the victim is not requesting them. So a person could be arrested and ordered to stay away from his or her home and family even if the victim is requesting that the order is not issued and that they be allowed to come home.
Domestic violence is also an enhanceable offense. A first offense domestic violence is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail, but a subsequent offense is a felony which could result in a prison sentence. A conviction for domestic violence will also prohibit the person from owning or using firearms.
Due to the very serious nature of this offense and the severe consequences that go along with it, anybody charged with domestic violence should immediately consult an attorney before making any decisions on how to proceed with their case.