Ohio Domestic Violence Laws
27 Sep
Author: Colin Maher
Date: 2019-09-27
Categories: Traffic

Ohio Domestic Violence Laws

How Do Domestic Violence Courts Work in Ohio?

Drawing a domestic violence charge in Ohio can put you into a legal process that differs slightly from the one used to investigate, prosecute, and penalize other types of alleged assaults. Make no mistake, though. Jail is still a possibility, and securing quality legal advice and representation can protect you from an unjust conviction and harsh penalties.

Understanding Ohio’s Domestic Violence Law

Section 2919.25 of the Ohio Revised Code makes it a criminal offense to do any of the following:

  • Knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member,
  • Recklessly cause serious physical harm to a family or household member, or
  • By threat of force, knowingly cause a family or household member to believe they will suffer imminent physical harm.

The state statute then goes on to define a family member or member of a household as a

  • Spouse,
  • Live-in partner,
  • Ex-spouse,
  • Biological mother or father,
  • Foster parent,
  • Son or daughter,
  • Parent of the accused person’s son or daughter, or
  • Close relative such as a first cousin or grandparent.

Depending on the nature of the charge and the accused person’s history of domestic violence convictions, a charge will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, a felony of the fourth degree, or a felony of the third degree. Potential maximum penalties are shown in the accompanying table.


Maximum Jail Term

Maximum Fine

Third-Degree Felony

9-36 months


Fourth-Degree Felony

6-18 months



Up to 30 days


The harshest penalties are sought for domestic violence incidents in which prosecutors believe the accused person intended to harm a pregnant woman and when the accused person has two or more previous assault convictions.

Understanding the Domestic Violence Court Process Ohio

A domestic violence court operates out of the same courthouse as the city or county’s criminal court. A person charged with a domestic violence offense will also go through the same arraignment and pretrial process as an individual who is charged with another offenses.

The difference starts with a separate docket and extends to an emphasis on protecting alleged victims. Grouping domestic violence cases under the purview of a single judge or a small group of judges can help the cases move quicker. Also, a judge assigned to handle cases on the domestic violence docket will operate under instructions to consider the rights and requests of alleged victims to the same degree that that they protect the rights of the accused.

One of the principal duties of a domestic violence court judge is issuing and enforcing protection orders. Violating such an order is a separate chargeable offense that can land an accused person in jail.

Another technical, but highly important, difference for domestic violence courts is that prosecutions can proceed strictly on physical evidence. An alleged victim of domestic violence may not even need to make a formal complaint before the alleged offender is arrested. Also, a judge will never force an alleged victim to testify in court. This can make mounting a defense more difficult.

A final difference involves what courts call “compliance monitoring.” Individuals who are named in protective orders or who are completing a sentence for a domestic violence conviction can be ordered to appear in court at regular intervals even if they are fully adhering to the terms of the their order or probation.

Colin Maher of the Columbus-based Maher Law offer free consultations to individuals charged with criminal offenses in Franklin County. You can schedule an appointment online or by calling (614) 205-2898.

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