Domestic Violence- To Call or Not to Call
The impact of the novel, Burning Bed, by Faith McNulty in 1980 and the stunning portrayal of Farah Fawcett in the movie version ignited national awareness of the violence that was occurring in our homes. Perhaps your home. Alarms were sounded in every city and town across the nation and demands mounted for new laws. Laws not only to protect the innocent, like Farah there hog-tied as I recall, (or was that what she did to her spouse?) in the home and abused in all sorts of terrible ways. But to punish those cruel people who have behaved that way since the Garden of Eden. That demand produced more stringent laws and increasingly vague language, terminology, policy and punishments in virtually every case. Bringing all that up to date and back to us here in Georgia, lets look at how all those changes affect the lives of its citizens as they deal with those laws and each other on both the domestic and legal fronts. Changing human nature is a very slow process, I've been told.
Georgia Code 19-13-10(5) defines ‘Family Violence” as the “commission of the offenses of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, or criminal trespass between family or household members.” Now that's a lot of law stated in a single sentence. Let's begin with the easiest first:
- • To commit Battery is to: “Intentionally cause substantial physical harm or visible bodily harm to another. So, how bad does the “Harm” have to be? If it reddens, bruises, blemishes, lacerates any part of the body to the extent it can be “perceived” it's battery. Someone is going to jail.
- • To commit ‘Simple Battery is to: Intentionally makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the person of another; or Intentionally cause physical harm to another. Now that boils down to and even a touching or bumping that might cause one to stumble and fall causing an injury. Someone's going to see blue lights.
- • To commit Assault means you: Try to commit a violent injury to the person or “Simple Assault: do something which makes someone reasonably think that you might try to hurt them. That might sound close to “scaring someone' and it is. Have you ever sat on stainless steel car seats before?.
- • Now Stalking means you: follow, place under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person. It can include the telephone, computer texting, etc. ( Could that include these nuisance callers, I wonder?) Put your hands behind your back!
- • Criminal Damage to Property is breaking or defacing something belonging to someone else in the household and the trespass is going back on the property after being informed that you are no longer welcome. Think throwing a phone, vase or keying your boyfriend's car. Call the bonding company!
Make the call, but only if you must. You might want to know the consequence before you do. Here are some of the more important consequences to consider.
Consequences of the call
Whatever scenario you might imagine or actually find yourself of a loved-one in, let's presume the call to 911 gets connected. I say connected, because the facts of a domestic violence episode do not HAVE to be communicated to the operator for the dispatch of a police unit to the scene, particularly if it was placed on a land-line with a physical address. It is not uncommon for the caller to have the phone taken away or knocked from the hand. More often than imagined, it remains connected and evidence is still being recorded, while cross referencing technology is being used to track the location of the call. By the way, interference with a 911 call is a separate crime.
So, let's say the police car is out front and the officers are at the door. They are NOT going to need a warrant to enter your house under these circumstances as already have information, minor as it may be, a crime has or is being committed in the house. Their first efforts will be to secure the safety of themselves and the occupants. The they will separate the occupants, take statements and determine who is going to jail. SOMEONE WILL GO TO JAIL!
Photos will be taken of bruises, redness, lacerations, broken of damaged property as part of determine what or how many different charges will be made against the perp. If there are children in the house, cruelty charges may apply in addition to Administrative proceeding to have the perp. placed on a National Registry of Child Abusers. No public defender help there!
Department of Family and Children's Services will likely show up to access the living conditions, establish a safety plan or take custody of the children on the spot temporarily in order to assure their safety, particularly if the “victim-spouse” or person does not appear to be as “co-operative” as expected.
After booking and being jailed a bond may be set for each of the separate crimes, so expect it to be set in the thousands. Meanwhile jobs will be lost and with the. Loss of income, debts are not paid and additional losses occur. Expect thousands more for attorney's fees if you can afford one. Meanwhile, someone is sitting in a jail cell waiting, just waiting. More often the injured victim is crying, trying in vain to drop the charges and finding out they really no longer have anything to say about whether the accused gets prosecuted or not.
Presuming, the charges are all “first-time offenses and no criminal record exists, the typical case will result in a plea to a set of serious but reduced charges but the admission of guilt to even one domestic violence crime will take away your 2nd Amendment right to possess a firearm.
Misdemeanor fines or $1,000 plus one or multiple 12 month sentences on probation will ordered for even the most minor of this sort of offense. Each offense remember.
So, if the call needs to be made, for Heaven's sake MAKE IT. Just be aware of the consequences. Love one another, bite your lip, turn a walk away when things get hot. Beat's the alternative, right?