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Domestic Assault Charges

Criminal Charges and Consequences explained

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Domestic Assault cases in Missouri are often one of the most misunderstood areas in the law because of the stigma associated with the concept of domestic violence and abuse, but also because the State’s interest in prosecuting it to the fullest. Unlike typical assault charge, domestic assault carries with it specific elements and has unique consequences.

Many times those who are accused of domestic assault don’t know where to start and don’t know how to best approach their case and deal with the consequences it has, not only on their own lives but the lives of their children or often times significant other. It is important that you have someone on your side who is experienced in domestic assault cases. At the Krupp law firm, we have been are experienced in this are a of law and know how to approach your unique case. Here are some of the Top 10 most frequently asked questions about Domestic Assault Charges:

Where do Domestic Assault charges come from?

There are a variety of instances that can lead to a Domestic Assault charge in Missouri. Some of the most common charges stem from violations of protection orders or a domestic dispute that leads to one partner calling the police to report the conduct of another partner. Sometimes there are physical acts involved, however, it is common that a police interaction could occur without any physical interaction. A threat of assault, or even now with the emergence of online communication devices such as text messaging and snap chat, certain harassment or stalking behavior could lead to a domestic violence charge.

What is the Law in Missouri on Domestic Assault?

Domestic assault, First Degree: B to A Felony

In Missouri, a person commits the offense of domestic assault in the first degree if he or she attempts to kill or knowingly causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to a domestic victim, as the term “domestic victim” is defined by Missouri Law.

The offense of domestic assault in the first degree is a class B felony unless in the course thereof the person inflicts serious physical injury on the victim, in which case it is a class A felony.

Domestic assault in the second degree: D Felony

In Missouri, a person commits the offense of domestic assault in the second degree if the act involves a domestic victim, as the term “domestic victim” is defined by Missouri Law, and he or she:

Knowingly causes physical injury to such domestic victim by any means, including but not limited to, use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, or by choking or strangulation; or recklessly causes serious physical injury to such domestic victim; or recklessly causes physical injury to such domestic victim by means of any deadly weapon.

Domestic assault, third degree: E Felony

A person commits the offense of domestic assault in the third degree if he or she attempts to cause physical injury or knowingly causes physical pain or illness to a domestic victim, as the term “domestic victim” is defined under Missouri Law

The offense of domestic assault in the third degree is a class E felony.

Domestic assault in the fourth degree: A Misdemeanor to E Felony

A person commits the offense of domestic assault in the fourth degree if the act involves a domestic victim, as the term “domestic victim” is defined under Missouri Law and;

The person attempts to cause or recklessly causes physical injury, physical pain, or illness to such domestic victim; with criminal negligence the person causes physical injury to such domestic victim by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument; the person purposely places such domestic victim in apprehension of immediate physical injury by any means; the person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to such domestic victim; the person knowingly causes physical contact with such domestic victim knowing he or she will regard the contact as offensive; or the person knowingly attempts to cause or causes the isolation of such domestic victim by unreasonably and substantially restricting or limiting his or her access to other persons, telecommunication devices or transportation for the purpose of isolation.

The offense of domestic assault in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor, unless the person has previously been found guilty of the offense of domestic assault, of any assault offense under the domestic assault chapter, or of any offense against a domestic victim committed in violation of any county or municipal ordinance in any state, any state law, any federal law, or any military law which if committed in this state two or more times would be a violation of this section, in which case it is a class E felony. The offenses described above may be against the same domestic victim or against different domestic victims.

What is a Domestic Victim under Missouri Law?

Under Missouri Law “Domestic victim” means, a household or family member as the term “family” or “household member” is defined, including any child who is a member of the household or family.

“Family” or “household member” includes spouses, former spouses, any person related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together or have resided together in the past, any person who is or has been in a continuing social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim, and anyone who has a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have resided together at any time;

How is Domestic Assault Prosecuted?

After police report a potential domestic violence issue to the State for prosecution, a charging attorney at the prosecutor’s office will most likely review certain factors to determine whether or not to file a domestic assault charge or some other charge involving domestic violence. Some factor include; whether there was an arrest made during the altercation, whether there was any physical harm, whether there were any threats, whether there was any damage to property, how many times have police been dispatched to the location for similar instances. In Missouri, unlike some other jurisdictions, the State law does not require police to make an arrest after responding to a domestic dispute.

Still, some local police departments may implement their own policy to protect the safety of potential victims and arrest someone after reporting to any domestic dispute so that they are not called back to the same scene later or to ensure that there would be no further escalation of the dispute. Once a prosecutor decides that the evidence is strong enough, she will file a complaint and the normal criminal defense process will begin.

What is an order of Protection?

In Missouri, if there is a domestic violence charge pending, the state may also request the judge enter into an order of protection on behalf of the alleged victim of the crime. In most instances the order of protection will be a temporary one and there will be a brief hearing and an opportunity for argument by counsel (or the parties if they are unrepresented) to argue why there should or should not be a temporary protection order. To seek a permanent protection order there must be an evidentiary hearing to determine whether a protection order will be put in place. The protection order plays a significant role in the realm of domestic violence cases because a violation of a protection order, for instance by making contact with the alleged victim, could lead to more charges while your domestic assault or other charges are pending. This is unfortunately a common occurrence where two partners have children.

What Impact could a domestic assault charge have on my life?

In addition to a criminal conviction, which would carry traditional consequences such as potential jail or prison time, probation, loss of job opportunities and other consequences, it also may affect one’s ability to own and carry firearms, and most notably could have a significant impact on child custody arrangements either now or in the future.

What if the Alleged Victim no longer wants to press charges?

In many circumstances the domestic violence charges will arise out of a heated debate of passion between partners, someone will be arrested and there is a lot of initial anger or animosity. Sometimes the alleged victim will change her mind as to whether she wants to press charges, especially where the two parties have a child together and do not want to see one of the parents incarcerated or hurt the family’s earning potential. There are a variety reasons that an alleged victim would no longer want to press charges and, in some circumstances, the alleged victim doesn’t want to press charges to begin with.

Still, these cases are not the alleged victim against the defendant, they are the State of Missouri against the defendant. Therefore, in St. Louis and St. Charles county, sometimes the state prosecutors will do their best to move forward with the prosecution despite the wishes of the alleged victim. This creates an interesting scenario which should be handled by someone who understands how the courts work in these situations which are very delicate.

What is my next step now that I have been charged with domestic assault?

Seek help, as early as possible. Domestic Assault charges are often misunderstood, and you may have a great defense, but especially in these cases compared to other cases, having an attorney on your side early is important to prevent harsh and unnecessary consequences in the future. You should seek to hire someone who has experience in the field, who has built up domestic violence cases on the other side by prosecuting those cases, who has handled many different scenarios of domestic violence accusations and who has tried and won domestic assault cases. We’re confident that you will find that here at the Krupp Law Firm.