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Could I be convicted of domestic violence if I spank my child?

The quick answer to that question is, maybe. It depends on the specific circumstances of the case that prosecutors are looking to make and on the legal defense that is mounted on your behalf.

The potential consequences of a charge of domestic violence are far reaching. And they are not necessarily limited to the aspects of the sentence that could be handed down by the court if a jury finds you guilty. All you have to do is look at the cases of professional football players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson to know that the fall out can begin well before any evidence is ever presented at trial. 

Not everyone may be suspended from their jobs as these two players have been, but it could happen and that means that the impact of a charge of child abuse or domestic violence could affect everyone in a family. That means getting through the legal maze in the most effective way possible should be a priority.

Central to the issue is possible confusion over when physical discipline or corporal punishment as it is called more formally, crosses the line into abuse or domestic violence. Under Ohio law parents and guardians of children have the right to exercise physical discipline that is "reasonable."

The state Supreme Court has established that the point of unreasonableness is reached if the punishment used represents a "substantial risk of serious physical harm to a child." But that is still a rather vague standard that can be subject to an individual's personal interpretation and the result is that lower courts have been inconsistent in making their determinations.

If prosecutors feel discipline has been taken too far, charges of child endangerment are most common. But there are cases in which more serious domestic violence charges have been brought.

Dealing with such variables should not be left to chance, but rather addressed with the help of experienced legal counsel.

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