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Filing a Domestic Violence Complaint in Columbus Ohio

Procedures For Reporting a Domestic Violence Incident 

            An alleged victim does not need the assistance of an attorney to file a domestic violence complaint in Columbus, Ohio. Typically, calls are placed to law enforcement, who respond to a 911 call. Police arrive, place the alleged abuser under arrest, and issue a warrant. The warrant must be in compliance with Fourth Amendment dictates, identifying the suspect and the place in which the domestic violence occurred.

            Alternatively, the alleged victim can file a domestic violence complaint, subsequent to which law enforcement will make an arrest and, upon probable cause, issue a warrant.

In the complaint, the victim must particularize the nature of the alleged domestic violence incident and corroborate the assertions with documentary and physical evidence (i.e., photos, recordings, emails, social media posts, torn clothing, physical scars, doctors’ notes, etc.). Without such evidence, the case will, in all likelihood, be dismissed.

Identity of the Victim

            The alleged victim must satisfy the requirements of being “a family or household member within the meaning of ORC § 2919.25 (F), as follows:

            “(F) As used in this section and sections 2919.251 and 2919.26 of the Revised Code:

(1) "Family or household member" means any of the following: 

(a) Any of the following who is residing or has resided with the offender: 

(i) A spouse, a person living as a spouse, or a former spouse of the offender;

(ii) A parent, a foster parent, or a child of the offender, or another person related by consanguinity or affinity to the offender;

(iii) A parent or a child of a spouse, person living as a spouse, or former spouse of the offender, or another person related by consanguinity or affinity to a spouse, person living as a spouse, or former spouse of the offender.”

Appearance In Court and Six Amendment Rights

            Pursuant to a court-issued subpoena, the alleged victim must appear before a judge or be held in contempt (an act punishable by up to thirty days in prison). In the absence of witnesses who can corroborate or negate the occurrence physical harm or abuse, the alleged victim’s appearance is essential to the prosecution’s case. In fact, the alleged victim’s testimony may be the only viable evidence on the prosecution’s side. Statements made to police subsequent to Miranda warnings are subject to suppression at trial. Testimony of the alleged victim’s out-of-court statements are subject to the hearsay rule and inadmissible as inherently unreliable. To preserve Six Amendment rights, neither party (neither alleged abuser nor alleged victim) should speak to law enforcement without an attorney.

Fifth Amendment Rights

            According to the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, an accused is entitled to cross-examine witnesses hostile to his or her case. If the victim is not present in course, the defendant unduly forfeits that right. In the alleged victim’s absence, the court may order a continuance until such time as the alleged victim can be location. If that event does not occur, the case will be dismissed.

Dropped Charges

            In a domestic violence case, the alleged victim cannot unilaterally drop the charges. In effect, once charges are filed, there is no turning back, except by the prosecution, who serves as the alleged victim’s protector. In most instances, the prosecution will pursue the charge to avert further harm to the alleged victim, even if the latter requests that charges be dropped.

Learn more about filing a domestic violence complaint and subsequent procedures by contacting an experienced Ohio domestic violence attorney.

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