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Understanding Ohio's domestic violence laws

Victims of domestic violence in Ohio are protected by both criminal and civil laws. As FindLaw explains, domestic violence can be an act or attempted act of physical, sexual or emotional violence against a household member. It also can be harassment by means of written, phone, voice mail, fax or email communications.

The Ohio Domestic Violence Network counsels that a family or household member is defined as one of the following:

  • A spouse or ex-spouse
  • A partner or relative with whom the alleged abuser cohabitates or with whom he has cohabitated in the past five years
  • A person with whom the alleged abuser has a child, whether or not they ever lived together
  • Any person related by blood or marriage

Abusers are prohibited from doing the following four things:

  1. Knowingly causing physical harm to a family or household member or attempting to cause such harm
  2. Recklessly causing a family or household member to suffer physical harm
  3. Threatening a family or household member with imminent physical harm
  4. Using force or the threat of force against a family or household member to make him or her believe that he or she is in danger of imminent physical harm

Criminal protections

Domestic violence can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Penalties for conviction of a domestic violence misdemeanor can range from 60 days to six months in jail and a fine of from $500 to $1,000. A felony conviction can result in prison incarceration from six months to three years and a fine of from $2,500 to $10,000.

Civil protections

In addition to criminal charges, an Ohio domestic violence victim also can seek civil protection in one or more of the following ways:

  • Getting a protective order against the alleged abuser
  • Filing a civil lawsuit against the alleged abuser to recover medical bills expenses, pain and suffering and other forms of loss
  • Modifying an existing custody order and/or an existing order for child or spousal support

The Ohio Domestic Violence Network has developed a series of legal manuals for the benefit of domestic violence victims. In addition, they have checklists for use by law enforcement and firearms checklists for use by prosecutors and judges.

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