Interviewer: What are the penalties if you do get convicted of even a misdemeanor domestic violence charge?
Attorney Churak: If you’re convicted of misdemeanor assault-family violence, you’re looking at a Class-A misdemeanor, which entails up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. You would serve the sentence in county jail.
You’re also looking at having what’s called a “finding of family violence.” If there is a finding of family violence, you are prohibited from possessing a firearm. You are prohibited from having any kind of ammunition. You are also disqualified from ever having primary custody of a child.
If a finding of family violence on your record, and you’re in a divorce action with your wife or you’re in a custody battle with your girlfriend, and there are issues about who should get custody, you’re not getting custody, so that’s the other issue. The other important aspect of it is that it can affect, in the long run, what happens to you and your relationship with your children.
Interviewer: What are the penalties for multiple offenses?
Attorney Churak: If it’s your second offense, then the charge becomes a state jail felony, which entails between 180 days to 2 years in the state jail, which is a felony, can result in a felony conviction on your record. If that occurs, you are looking at all the ramifications of having a felony.
If the incident involved allegations of choking and you’re found guilty, then you’re looking potentially at 2 to 10 years in prison. If it’s serious bodily injury, then you’re looking at potentially 2 to 20 years.
So, the penalties are quite serious for subsequent offenses.
Interviewer: Why is there a special section for choking? Why did that come about?
Attorney Churak: The legislature put that in approximately 4 to 6 years ago as an enhancement. Next to DWI, the family violence crimes are particularly important to the politicians. Those are the offenses that are looked at more seriously. They are also crimes subject to the most legislation.