Domestic Abuse: a Serious Problem in LA
Domestic Abuse cases are serious for multiple reasons. First, violence against family members or partners/ ex-partners is a nationwide problem. Louisiana is ranked 2nd in the nation for homicides of women committed by men. The rate of female victims killed by male offenders is up for the fifth, consecutive year. 69% of those homicides involved firearms.
Secondly, cases like these are also serious for the accused.
Criminal Case and Protective Orders
Louisiana has a list of revised statutes to criminalize domestic abuse, which is designed to protect the victims. The victims of these cases are girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses and/or partners or people who were formerly spouses/ partners or live-in girlfriend/boyfriend. The offenses start small, as a misdemeanor battery (LA R.S.14:35.3) or a misdemeanor assault (LA R.S.14:38). The offenses escalate to felonies if a weapon is involved (LA R.S.14:37.7) or when there are multiple convictions of the misdemeanors.
Prosecutors and Courts treat domestic abuse cases very seriously. Therefore, the punishments and collateral consequences are severe. The offenses are enhanceable, which means with each conviction, there will be a harsher punishment and additional fines. Additionally, the prosecutor is likely to seek a protective order/ restraining order to prohibit contact with the victim. These orders can be difficult to comply with; the orders may keep you from going to your home or contacting your children. Lastly, protective orders can also prohibit you from possessing a firearm while the order is active.
It is unlawful for anyone convicted of the offenses listed above to possess a firearm or carry a concealed weapon (LA R.S. 14:95.10). Importantly, domestic abuse cases are also treated differently for expungement purposes. An expungement, if eligible for your case, allows the clearing of the arrest and disposition from public view. However, the Louisiana expungement statutes are especially strict with domestic abuse criminal records.
If You’re Accused…
If you have been cited or arrested for an allegation of domestic abuse, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer. You may be under the incorrect belief that if your partner chooses not to pursue the charges, you are off the hook. However, once a summons has been issued or an arrest has been made, the decision to prosecute or not prosecute the charges against you belongs to the District Attorney’s Office. Because of the increased rate of domestic violence in Louisiana, District Attorneys are not simply dismissing cases. Therefore, you need a zealous advocate in your corner!