Family Violence Act Explained

First, to clear up a common misconception, there is no criminal charge of “Family Violence” in the state of Georgia. The Family Violence Act, 19-13-1 O.C.G.A., provides a list of relationships and crimes that if present in combination constitutes family violence. Of key importance in understanding the Family Violence Act is that if a peace officer has probable cause to conclude that one of the included crimes was committed involving parties of one of the included relationships, the peace officer is required by law to make an arrest. Again, the peace officer must make the arrest. It is not optional. Furthermore, the victim in the crime cannot drop the charges. This does not mean that the prosecutor must prosecute the case. It simply means that the decision of whether or not to prosecute does not belong to the victim.

The relationships listed in the act are past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, and other persons living or formerly living in the same household. These relationships once established last forever as it concerns

The included crimes are as follows: any felony, battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint (false imprisonment and kidnapping), and criminal trespass. Reasonable corporal punishment is not a crime.

The property of a married couple is community property in the eyes of the law. If during a domestic dispute one part or a married couple intentionally destroys their own property it is considered a crime (criminal trespass/criminal damage to property). Yes, destroying your own property during a domestic dispute is a crime, and as stated above, a peace office is required to make an arrest if probable cause exists.

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