Domestic Violence

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 15,000 criminal cases and are consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s top criminal defense firms. We are highly experienced domestic violence lawyers in Columbus, OH and all of central Ohio. Experience matters when dealing with these cases, which prosecutors and judges handle differently on a case-by-case basis. We know what to expect and what to do to get the best result possible.

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Columbus Domestic Violence Lawyer

When you mention Domestic violence (also known as “DV”) cases, most people think of a guy from the 1950s in a tank top tee shirt who routinely puts his wife and kids in the hospital whenever there is a disagreement.  But the reality is quite different.  Domestic violence allegations arise from almost any situation, including heated arguments, situations where the parties are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in child custody cases, and in divorce cases where one party is trying to gain a more favorable position.

Domestic violence (DV) charges can go beyond physical assault accusations. Domestic violence can include attempting to harm or harming someone in your household or in your family. DV can include actions that make the other party feel unsafe, such as menacing by stalking or aggravated trespassing. Domestic violence cases also cover child abuse and sexually oriented criminal acts. Domestic violence victims can also include a current or former intimate partner.

Unfortunately, with increasing social pressure and the media placing a spotlight on domestic violence crimes law enforcement, prosecutors and courts are handing out strict penalties for those accused and charged with domestic violence. The penalties for a domestic violence charge can be devastating. Penalties for a DV charge can include jail, prison, fines, loss of gun rights, loss of employment, loss of certain professional licenses and a permanent scar on your criminal record.

We Are Highly Experienced Domestic Violence Attorneys

Here at the Joslyn Law Firm, we have successfully handled hundreds of domestic violence cases in Columbus and the Central Ohio. The firm’s extensive experience has resulted in our attorneys developing good relationships and a keen understanding of what to expect from certain prosecutors and judges handling domestic violence cases.

This coupled with our attorneys’ deep understanding of domestic violence laws will ensure you receive the best domestic violence defense possible. We will do everything possible to have a favorable outcome or ultimately have your case dismissed. If you choose to work with the Joslyn Law Firm, you can be assured that you are dealing with an experienced, trustworthy, and highly capable criminal defense team.

The criminal defense attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm have obtained favorable results for previous clients charged with domestic violence, including:

  • Not guilty verdict: Our client faced two charges of domestic violence against his minor child and the mother during a neutral-site parenting exchange. The mother recorded the child resisting visitation with our client and then accused him of harming the child and attempting to hit her for recording. Following a one-bench trial and a six-week advisement, our client was found not guilty for both charges.
  • Case dismissed: Our client got into an argument with his wife and then found himself arrested and facing domestic violence charges. His wife called Joslyn Law Firm, as she didn’t understand how an argument turned into jail time for her husband. The state was very resistant to dismissing or reducing his charges, but our attorneys stuck to their guns and suggested our client take an anger management course. The state relented, and the case was dismissed.

The dedication we have for our clients has earned us recognition at state and national levels.

  • Best Criminal Defense Attorneys in 2022 by Expertise
  • Best Lawyer Award in 2019 by BirdEye
  • Client Champion Gold Award in 2022 by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers Association
  • America’s Top 100 Attorneys

We have served clients who are police officers, students, and celebrities, among others, who have chosen us to keep them from going behind bars, paying thousands of dollars in fines, and upending their ways of life. When you get our team on your side, expect us to put forth the same drive and dedication we’ve given them, while forming a personal approach to your unique case.

Joslyn Law Firm has defended over 20,000 cases and accumulated more than 50 years of collective experience. We will use this experience and knowledge to fight your domestic violence charges and work to keep you from going to jail and safeguard your personal and professional life.

We Know What It Takes to Defend You

In doing so, a Columbus domestic violence lawyer on our team will craft a defense that targets your specific circumstances and needs. Common defenses they employ include:

  • Entrapment
  • Failure to read your Miranda rights
  • Unlawful search and seizure
  • Mistaken identity
  • False reports
  • Self-defense
  • Lack of reasonable suspicion or probable cause

Your attorney may use a combination of these defenses to defend you against family violence charges. In any case, we will work to secure the best outcome possible.

If you are facing allegations of DV, you need to become familiar with the law and the consequences of a conviction of domestic violence.  The Domestic Violence Information Center on this site will provide you with the information you need to understand the charges you are facing and to make informed decisions regarding your defense.  The attorneys and staff of the Joslyn Law Firm are committed to providing you with the information and support you need to defend your rights.

Find out how our Columbus domestic violence lawyers can advocate for you when you call us for a free case review. Dial (614) 444-1900 now.

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Ohio Domestic Violence Information Center

  1. Domestic Violence Overview
  2. Domestic Violence Definition
  3. Common Domestic Violence Offenses and Related Offenses
  4. Domestic Violence Defenses
  5. Penalties for Ohio Domestic Violence Charges
  6. Local and National Resources for Domestic Violence
  7. Allegations and Filing Domestic Violence Charges
  8. What Are the Domestic Violence Statute of Limitations in Ohio?
  9. Warrant for Arrest for Domestic Violence Charges
  10. The Court Process in Domestic Violence Cases
  11. When Domestic Violence Charges are Filed, the Victim Can’t Turn Back
  12. Evidence In Domestic Violence Cases
  13. Preventing Testimony In Domestic Violence Trials
  14. Collateral Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
  15. Domestic Violence Cases with Children
  16. Columbus Domestic Violence Special Unit
  17. Related Domestic Violence News and Articles

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1. Domestic Violence Overview

Domestic violence is an act of violence, or the threat of violence, by one person against a household or family member.  Domestic violence may also be referred to as “intimate partner violence.” Despite the use of the word “domestic,” this type of violence can occur anywhere, not just inside the home.  Domestic violence refers to the relationship between the alleged abuser and victim, not the location of where the violence takes place.

Domestic violence allegations can often arise from almost any situation, including heated arguments, situations where the parties are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in child custody cases, and in divorce cases where one party is trying to gain a more favorable position.

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2. Domestic Violence Definition

According to the Ohio Revised Code § 2919.25, domestic violence is defined as committing a sexually oriented offense; committing any act that would result in an abused child; or knowingly causing or attempting to cause, recklessly causing, or threatening force of physical harm to a family or household member. Therefore, domestic violence allegations can arise from almost anything.

You Don’t Have to Beat Someone Up to be Guilty. A common misconception is that you have to beat someone up in order to be prosecuted and convicted for Domestic Violence.

Learn more about the Ohio Domestic Violence Statute.

3. Common Domestic Violence Offenses and Related Offenses

  • Violation of a Protection Order– Defined in Ohio Revised Code § 2919.07, an individual has committed the criminal offense of violating a protection order when he or she does not comply with the terms of a domestic violence protection order (also referred to as a restraining order). The protection order may contain any requirements or prohibitions necessary to ensure the safety of a victim of domestic violence.
  • Domestic Assault / Battery– Defined in Ohio Revised Code § 2903.13 an individual is considered to have committed domestic assault if he or she knowingly caused or attempted to cause physical harm to a family member; or recklessly caused serious physical harm to a family member. This could include physical assault in the form of strangulation which is now a felony charge in Ohio. 
  • Child Abuse / Neglect– There is a wide array of conduct that constitutes child abuse or neglect.  Ohio Revised Code § 2151.031 considers a child “abused” if he or she is the victim of sexual activity, endangered, or exhibits a physical or mental injury, or death inflicted other than by accidental means.
  • Stalking/Menacing by Stalking-Defined in Ohio Revised Code § 2903.211 an individual has committed the criminal offense of stalking or menacing by stalking if he or she is knowingly engaging in a pattern of conduct that would cause another person to believe the offender will cause physical harm or mental distress. Stalking may occur in person or through electronic means.
  • Sexual Battery– As defined in Ohio Revised Code § 2907.03 sexual battery occurs when an offender knowingly coerces a person to submit to sexual conduct or engages in sexual conduct without the other person’s knowledge or while the other person’s conduct is substantially impaired.
  • Rape– Rape is defined in Ohio Revised Code § 2907.02 as engaging in sexual conduct by force, for the purpose of preventing resistance, or while the other person’s ability to resist is substantially impaired.

Learn more about domestic violence and related offenses.


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4. Domestic Violence Defenses

Many domestic violations allegations may not actually be domestic violence, and have arisen due to other situations. It is important to hire a domestic violence defense attorney to help you identify any applicable defenses or mitigating factors in your particular situation. The following are examples of defenses that can be used in certain domestic violence cases:

Defense of Others – It may be necessary to use defensive force against someone who is a family or household member in order to prevent the family or household member from inflicting bodily harm or injury to another person.

Endangering Children – In Ohio, treatment for a child’s mental or physical illness or other defect by spiritual means through prayer alone is a defense to allegations of child endangerment as long as the spiritual means is in accordance with the doctrines of a recognized religious body.

False Allegations – Some alleged domestic violence victims will falsely claim another family or household member committed domestic violence against them. There are many reasons a person may make these false accusations, including to gain custody of a child or children, to gain a favorable position in a divorce or just out of spite. In these situations, it is imperative to hire an attorney who will help you develop your best defense.

Lack of Intent – Intent to harm or cause fear in someone is a requirement for many domestic violence offenses. An alleged offender’s charges could possibly be reduced to a lesser charge or dismissed if they did not have the statutorily required intent.

Self-Defense – Sometimes domestic violence accusations may come from the person who actually initiated to the domestic violence or caused the situation to escalate. If the alleged victim actually provoked or attacked the alleged offender, self-defense may have been necessary for the alleged offender to use.

Learn more about available defenses to domestic violence charges here.

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5. Penalties for Ohio Domestic Violence Charges

Every domestic violence charge will incur different punishments, and many require mandatory prison sentences. The following are the basic statutory sentences for various degrees of offenses, but can change depending on the severity of the crime, the type of victim, whether the statute provides for more serious punishment, and the number of prior offenses the offender has.


Maximum Imprisonment Maximum Fine

First –degree misdemeanor

180 days $1,000

Second-degree misdemeanor

90 days


Third-degree misdemeanor

60 days


Fourth-degree misdemeanor

30 days


Minor misdemeanor



First-degree felony

3 to 11 years


Second-degree felony

2 to 8 years


Third-degree felony

9 months to 5 years



Fourth-degree felony

6 to 18 months


Fifth-degree felony 6 to 12 months



Learn more about the Ohio Domestic Violence penalties.

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6. Local and National Resources for Domestic Violence

Ohio Domestic Violence Network – The ODVN is an Ohio-based alliance of domestic violence programs, agencies and individuals seeking to eliminate domestic violence by promoting social change and providing assistance, resources, information and training to the public on domestic violence issues. The Ohio Domestic Violence Network can be contacted at:

4807 Evanswood Drive, Ste. 201
Columbus, Ohio 43229
Phone: (614) 781-9651

Chapter 2919 of the Ohio Revised Code – This title of the Ohio Revised Code contains all the rules and penalties for offenses against the family in Ohio, including domestic violence offenses and punishments. Specifically, Chapter 2919.25 Domestic Violence, includes information and definitions specific to domestic violence and related charges.

National Domestic Abuse Hotline – This organization offers tools and support to help domestic abuse victims break free from the abuse they suffer. Trained and expert advocates are standing by 24/7, 365 days a year to give education, crisis intervention information, and referral services. You can reach them when you:

Text START to 88788, or
Dial 1.800.799.SAFE, or
Do a live chat on their website.

Learn more about domestic violence resources.

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7. Allegations and Filing Domestic Violence Charges

Most domestic violence cases begin with an allegation or a claim of domestic violence. The victim of the alleged domestic violence doesn’t need a lawyer to issue a complaint. They may file one or two forms:

  • Confidential Victim Information Sheet: Here, they must specify if they were injured and/or had property damage. They are encouraged to attach photos to back up their claims. Then, the victim will write their account of the incident and say if they think they need a restraining order.
  • Voluntary Statement Detailing Prior History of Domestic Violence: The form will ask the victim to describe any history they have of suffering from domestic violence.

Upon notification of the domestic violence allegation, law enforcement will generally issue a domestic violence warrant for the alleged abuser’s arrest. Once law enforcement locates the accused, they will most likely arrest and put them in jail until the court posts their bond. If they cannot find the accused, they will issue an arrest warrant, or the accused will have to lift the warrant or turn themselves in.

Learn more about notifying law enforcement and filing charges.

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8. What Are the Domestic Violence Statute of Limitations in Ohio?

If you are being accused of domestic violence it is important to know how long the statute of limitations on domestic violence charges is in Ohio and whether the person accusing you is within the valid timeframe. When it comes to filing domestic violence charges a person has 2 years to make an allegation of domestic violence against their partner, parent, or other household member if they are misdemeanor domestic violence allegations. The statute of limitations on domestic violence cases if they are felony domestic violence allegations is 6 years. This is an important distinction. It is vitally important to know what sort of charges you are facing whether they be felony or misdemeanor allegations and when the event occurred that you are being accused of. If an accusation happened outside of the statute of limitations the accuser has forfeited their legal recourse on the matter.

9. Warrant for Arrest for Domestic Violence Charges

Warrants are powerful tools that give law enforcement the authority to arrest a suspect after an alleged act of domestic violence. Generally, warrants are issued following a 911 call and the suspect has left the scene or after an alleged victim has filed a domestic violence complaint.

Depending on the county, law enforcement takes different approaches to locating and arresting a suspect once a warrant is issued.

You have to turn yourself in eventually, as leaving the scene prolongs the inevitable: jail. However, if you have one of our Columbus domestic violence attorneys on your side, we can defend you and help make the process smoother by:

  • Recommending that you be released upon your recognizance as opposed to a bond
  • Encouraging you to show up in court and tell the judge and the state that a recognizance bond is appropriate and a stay away order is unnecessary
  • Calling the police and telling them you will meet with them so you can turn yourself in
  • Representing you before the plaintiff, prosecution, and the state

If it all goes according to plan, the judge may offer an affordable bond or a recognizance bond. Then, the police will escort you to the jail for processing and then you can leave. Just ensure you obey all of the judge’s orders.

Learn more about the steps to take after a domestic violence warrant is issued.

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10. The Court Process in Domestic Violence Cases

Following an arrest for domestic violence, the average individual has one concern—being released. However, this process can be complex and take many steps. Learn more about the court process in domestic violence cases from arraignment to trial.

Generally, the court process in domestic violence cases involves the following steps:

      • Arraignment and the Initial Plea- An arraignment is a criminal court proceeding during which the defendant is informed of the offense charged. A defendant is given the opportunity to enter a plea. During this hearing the judge will set bail or place any conditions on bail.
      • Pre-Trial Hearing- Before the trial the court will set a pre-trial hearing. During this hearing the defense attorney has the opportunity to review the prosecutor’s evidence. The parties may discuss any evidentiary issues and/or the reduction of criminal charges.
      • Trial- The final step in the criminal process is trial. During this proceeding both the prosecution and defense have the opportunity to present their case regarding the criminal charges.

The overview is intended to serve as general information. It is highly recommended to consult an experienced attorney throughout the court process.

Learn more about the Domestic Violence Court Process.

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11. When Domestic Violence Charges are Filed, the Victim Can’t Turn Back

Just as alleged victims of domestic violence may have several reasons to file charges against an abuser, many factors may influence a victim to drop the domestic violence charge, including love for the alleged abuser or a desire to preserve the family unit. However, once the charges are filed, the alleged victim cannot change his or her mind. Only the prosecutor can drop or reduce criminal charges of domestic violence.

They are the one representing the State, and the State is responsible for protecting the victim. If the victim tries to withdraw the charges, the prosecutor may step in and say the victim isn’t in the right headspace, as the abuse has beaten them down so much, and they don’t have a sense of what’s best for them anymore.

The victim may try to rebel and fail to show up in court. In that event, the court or the prosecutor may issue a subpoena. If the victim still doesn’t appear in court, they may face charges for contempt.

If the victim is still adamant about dropping the charges and refuses to show up, the prosecutor will have to proceed to trial without their testimony, which may ultimately weaken their case. Their scant evidence may prompt them to drop the domestic violence charges against you.

Learn more about roles of victims in the prosecution of domestic violence cases.

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12. Evidence In Domestic Violence Cases

Customarily, domestic violence occurs within a private residence away from law enforcement officers. As a result, it is difficult to determine exactly what occurred and whether the alleged conduct constitutes as domestic violence. In order to prepare an adequate defense, it is recommended to collect and retain as much evidence surrounding the incident as possible.

There are several forms of evidence, including:

  • Photographs
  • Text messages
  • Emails
  • The police report
  • Social media messages
  • Witness testimony from family members or those present at the time of the incident
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Medical records that document the victim’s and the accused’s injuries at the time of the incident
  • Phone records
  • The accused’s criminal record
  • Ripped clothing and other physical evidence

However, all evidence may not be easily obtained or be permitted for presentation in court. For example, if the victim recorded an altercation with the accused, then the court may declare the evidence as hearsay, as the statements are made out of court, not under oath, and could be taken out of context. As a result, both sides could be subject to a perjury offense if they accepted the recording.

Learn more about evidence in a domestic violence case

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13. Preventing Testimony In Domestic Violence Trials

In criminal proceedings, not all people can be compelled or meet the necessary legal qualifications to testify. For example, in certain situations, an individual may refuse to answer certain questions during a trial, because the truthful answer could lead to criminal charges.

Also, under specific circumstances, a spouse may refuse to testify against the other spouse. Common exemptions include:

  • Privilege Against Self-Incrimination: Under Ohio Revised Code Section 2919.25, no one should knowingly harm a family member. For example, suppose a husband struck his wife and the wife responded by throwing a plate on the floor, causing the husband to sustain cuts. Even though he has physical scars from the event, he is not totally blameless. In that case, it would be wise of him not to testify in court, as he would incriminate himself.
  • Spousal Privilege: This protects communications between a husband and wife during their marriage as long as that marriage is valid. To determine if their communications were confidential, the court will consider the circumstances, the language used, and the nature of the communications, per Ohio Revised Code Section 2945.42.
  • Competency: The court breaks competency down into three elements: 1) The individual must understand impressions of facts. 2) They must be able to remember those impressions. 3) They must be able to truthfully relate those impressions.

There are several privileges or exemptions which prevent an individual from testifying in a domestic violence trial.

Learn more about preventing testimony in domestic violence cases.

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14. Collateral Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction

A domestic violence conviction has serious criminal consequences, including jail time and steep fines. However, there are other consequences related to employment, housing, and other personal matters.

To illustrate:

  • You may lose your job or have a hard time getting a new one. When employers do a background check, your domestic violence conviction will appear in the search. The state doesn’t require employers to refuse hiring convicts, However, they are probably more likely to hire someone with no prior convictions.
  • You could lose custody of your children. If you’re getting a divorce or your spouse filed for divorce after the conviction, you may no longer have custody of your children.
  • You may not be able to buy or rent property. Even welfare or public housing assistance may not be an option for you.
  • Those convicted of even a misdemeanor domestic violence offense are prohibited from owning a firearm or retaining a hunting license.

Learn more about the collateral consequences of a domestic violence charge.

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15. Domestic Violence Cases with Children

The state of Ohio allows corporal punishment, which means a parent can use physical contact as means of punishment so long as the punishment was reasonable. However, there is a thin line between disciplining a child and domestic abuse.

According to Ohio Revised Code Section 2151.031, a child is considered abused if they are endangered, a victim of sexual activity, have physical or mental injuries that harms their welfare, health, or life.

Ohio Revised Code Section 2919.22 goes on to say that anyone who abuses or tortures a child, cruelly administers corporal punishment, use the child in a sexually oriented manner, or drives a vehicle with a minor child inside is breaking the law.

If a child is victimized in any of these circumstances, Children’s Services may step in and put them in foster care. After a few weeks, the parents can testify that the child is safe in their care and should have the child returned to them.

Learn more about domestic violence and children

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16. Columbus Domestic Violence Special Unit

Instances of domestic violence are zealously pursued by District Attorney’s offices throughout the state of Ohio. Several counties throughout the state have created special prosecution teams, which are specifically trained and dedicated to handling domestic violence matters, including stalking, repeat assaults, and high-risk victims.

The Domestic Violence Unit works with liaisons throughout the community to provide support and tools to victims of domestic violence. These organizations include:

  • CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence
  • Legal Aid
  • Franklin County Children’s Services
  • Southeast Mental Health Service
  • The Columbus City Attorney’s Office

The Columbus City Attorney’s Office has a Stalking Unit, which is a branch of the Domestic Violence Unit. It seeks to investigate complaints of stalking, support victims and help them get Civil Protection Orders, and collect evidence to form a case against the accused. They also have prosecutors and offer education, resources, and overall aid to stalking and domestic violence victims.

Learn more about Ohio’s special domestic violence units

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17. Related Domestic Violence News and Articles

Domestic Violence Victim Address Confidentiality Bill Pending Before Ohio Legislators: Ohio House Bill 359 is pending before Ohio legislators as of January 22, 2016. Currently, the bill has been introduced in the House and referred to the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee.

If passed, the bill would create an address confidentiality program for victims of domestic violence, stalking, rape, and other related offenses. The program would establish an alternative mailing address with the Secretary of State to shield their home addresses and other personal identifying information from public record. Read the full text of the bill here.

Domestic Violence in Franklin County Still High Amid Pandemic Experts Say: As of April 2022, there has been a 10% increase in domestic abuse since the pandemic. In the article, Lillian Howard, the director of clinical support services at LSS Choices in Columbus, instructed readers to watch for red flags. They may include partners who move into the relationship too fast, isolation, and verbal, sexual, and financial abuse. Women are more likely to be injured or killed by their romantic partners than men.

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Finding the Best Columbus Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

Contact the Joslyn Law Firm today for a consultation about your domestic violence offense in Columbus, Ohio. It is important to hire an experienced criminal lawyer to help you find possible defenses and mitigating factors in your particular case.

Contact the Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a consultation about your domestic violence charge in Franklin County and surrounding counties, including Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County and Fairfield County in Ohio.

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  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional exellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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