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Jail Time for Domestic Violence Charges in Ohio

Updated: April 18, 2024
Nicholas G. Gounaris
By Nicholas G. Gounaris

Nicholas G. Gounaris is a skilled trial lawyer and founding partner of Gounaris Abboud law firm. He provides clients of the firm with competent legal representation and focuses his law practice in the areas of DUI Defense, Criminal Defense, Family Law Issues, Federal Criminal Law and Personal Injury cases.

Domestic violence accusations can have immediate and serious consequences.

Aside from jail time, people tend to assume the worst, and domestic violence accusations can tarnish your reputation even before you have a chance to fight the charges.

Knowing the law about domestic violence in Ohio can help you face the challenges that arise after a domestic violence charge.

If you’re ready to start your defense, call 937-222-1515 or contact the experienced Dayton domestic violence lawyer at Gounaris Abboud, LPA online today.

What Is Domestic Violence in Ohio?

What Is Domestic Violence in Ohio?

Ohio law defines domestic violence as knowingly harming or threatening a family or household member. First, the harm or threat must occur knowingly. Thus, domestic violence does not include accidentally hurting someone. Ohio law instead requires knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury or physical harm.

Including recklessness in the definition of domestic violence is important. Suppose someone deliberately threw a plate at the wall, shattering it and cutting their spouse. This could qualify as domestic violence because the thrower recklessly disregarded the risk of hitting their spouse with the plate or the broken shards.

Second, domestic violence requires that the victim be a family or household member.

Ohio defines these terms to include:

  • A current or former legal spouse or common-law marital relationship.
  • A natural parent, foster parent, or parent-in-law.
  • A son or daughter.
  • Your and your spouse’s family members by blood or marriage.
  • Your child’s other natural parent.

To fall under the statute, you must currently or formerly cohabit with the person, except in the case of a co-parent.

What Are Common Domestic Violence Scenarios?

Domestic violence is an attempt to control someone else through a variety of means. These means can take many forms. However, a criminal domestic violence charge requires proof of physical harm or a threat of physical harm.

The types of domestic violence that might justify restraining orders differ from the acts that get you convicted of domestic violence. Ohio criminal law requires some physical manifestation of the harm for a conviction. Some common scenarios involving criminal domestic violence include the following.

Physical Abuse

Physical Abuse

Any physical harm, ranging from slapping the phone out of someone’s hand to breaking a bone, can support a domestic violence conviction. In other words, the police do not need evidence of serious physical harm for an arrest.

Domestic violence also includes the threat of imminent serious physical harm. This threat may include words or actions, such as brandishing weapons.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can cover any actual or threatened sexual contact that happens without consent. Importantly, marriage does not substitute for consent. Coercing or forcing a spouse or former spouse into sex can qualify as domestic violence. It may also constitute a separate sexually oriented offense, such as rape or sexual assault.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse happens when someone undermines the self-esteem of a family or household member. Emotional abuse only qualifies as a crime if it is accompanied by threatened or actual bodily harm.

Economic Abuse

Economic abuse happens when someone controls a family or household member through money. For example, withholding money from someone or blocking them from getting a job may be considered domestic violence. However, it is only criminal if there is actual or imminent physical harm.

Psychological Abuse

Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse is closely related to emotional abuse. It often includes manipulation, intimidation, and gaslighting. It may constitute a crime when the intimidation includes harm or a threat of harm.

Technological Abuse

Technological abuse is another way to control a person living with you or another family or household member. Technological abuse happens when a person related to the victim uses electronic devices to stalk, harass, or monitor them. When these behaviors include threats of physical harm, they may support criminal charges.

How Much Time Do You Get in Jail for Domestic Violence in Ohio?

Conviction Type Degree of Misdemeanor/Felony Jail Time
First-time conviction for threatened harm. Fourth-degree misdemeanor Up to 30 days
Prior conviction for threatened harm. Second-degree misdemeanor Up to 6 months
First-time conviction for actual harm. First-degree misdemeanor Up to 6 months
First-time conviction for attempted harm. First-degree misdemeanor Up to 6 months
Prior conviction for actual harm. Fourth-degree felony 6-18 months
Prior conviction for attempted harm. Fourth-degree felony 6-18 months
Knowing a victim was pregnant. N/A 6-12 months (mandatory min)

If you have never been convicted or pleaded guilty to domestic violence before, you could face a first-degree misdemeanor conviction for actual or attempted harm.

A first-time conviction for threatened harm is a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

The judge has the final say about sentencing, but domestic violence jail time can range between 0 and 30 days for a fourth-degree misdemeanor and up to six months for a first-degree misdemeanor.

Both convictions may result in fines in addition to jail time.

The consequences are more severe if you have a prior conviction for domestic violence. With priors, actual or attempted harm becomes a fourth-degree felony, and threatened harm becomes a second-degree misdemeanor.

A fourth-degree felony conviction may result in six to 18 months of jail time.

In addition, if you knew that the household member bringing the charges was pregnant at the time of the alleged incident, you can face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of six to twelve months.

Finally, almost all domestic violence convictions in Ohio will always remain on one’s record as they are currently not offenses that are eligible to be sealed or expunged.

Protect Your Rights: Reach Out to Our Dayton Domestic Violence Lawyers Today

Call 937-222-1515

Compassionate legal support for domestic violence cases. We prioritize your safety and rights. Contact us for dedicated representation.

Possible Ohio Domestic Violence Defenses

There are a few defenses you can use to fight a charge and avoid domestic violence jail time. A skilled defense attorney will know which defense is best for you.

Burden of Proof

Criminal charges such as domestic violence require that the prosecution prove your guilt. Your attorney can defend you against a domestic violence charge by casting enough doubt on the prosecutor’s evidence.

If the prosecution does not meet its burden of proof, you must be found not guilty.

False Accusations

Your accuser may have a reason to falsely accuse you of domestic violence. Domestic violence accusations can affect divorce proceedings and child custody and visitation rights.

A spouse or partner may make a false accusation to get a certain custody outcome or a better divorce settlement. A skilled attorney may be able to help you prove that the domestic violence allegations against you are false.


Self-defense is another possible defense against domestic violence. An attorney can help you establish that you were using reasonable force to defend yourself against intentional harm from the other party.

Why Choose Our Ohio Domestic Violence Lawyers?

✓ Both of your attorneys have perfect 10.0 Superb Avvo Ratings.

✓ We have former prosecutors on our team.

✓ We are Ohio Super Lawyers®.

✓ We are in the National Trial Lawyers Top 100.

✓ Our criminal defense lawyers offer free consultations.

Contact Our Dayton Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

At Gounaris Abboud, LPA our attorneys have a combined experience of more than 50 years and a history of producing results for our clients.

Our Dayton criminal defense lawyers are ready to listen to the details of your situation and advise you on your next steps.

Contact us online today or call 937-222-1515 to discuss your case with a bold, dedicated Ohio criminal defense attorney.

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Facing Domestic Violence Charges?

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