After being accused of domestic assault, the person accused may be tempted to talk to the victim to clear up the issue. However, this can make matters worse. Talk to an experienced Missouri criminal defense attorney to understand your options, how to handle a pending criminal charge during a custody dispute, and how your lawyer can get the charges dropped, reduced, or get a not-guilty verdict.
Domestic violence charges in Missouri are taken very seriously and can result in harsh penalties. Even being accused of domestic assault can harm someone's reputation, even if they are later found not guilty of any crime. If you are arrested for domestic assault in Raymore or Cass County, contact Higher Level Legal for help.
Domestic Violence Laws in Missouri
Domestic assault in Missouri involves assault against a household or family member. Under Missouri Revised Statute § 455.010, a family or household member includes:
- 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.
Domestic assault in Missouri is classified by degree. Domestic assault ranges from the most serious first degree to fourth degree.
Domestic Assault in the Fourth Degree
Under Missouri Revised Statute § 565.072, domestic assault in the fourth degree involves the following.
- 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.
- Purposely placing a domestic victim in apprehension of immediate physical injury by any means.
- Recklessly engaging in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to such domestic victim.
- Knowingly causes physical contact with such domestic victim knowing he or she will regard the contact as offensive.
- 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.
Domestic assault in the fourth degree is a Class A misdemeanor in Missouri. The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor conviction include:
- Up to 1 year in jail, and
- Fine of up to $2,000.
However, if someone has been convicted of domestic assault two or more times, fourth-degree domestic assault may be charged as a Class E felony. The penalties for a Class E felony may include up to four years in prison.
Domestic Assault in the Third Degree
Under Missouri Revised Statute § 565.074, domestic assault in the third degree involves attempting to cause physical injury or knowingly cause physical pain or illness to a domestic victim. Domestic assault in the third degree is a Class E felony and may include up to four years in prison.
Domestic Assault in the Second Degree
Under Missouri Revised Statute § 565.073, domestic assault in the second degree involves:
- Knowingly causing 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 causing serious physical injury to such domestic victim; or
- Recklessly causing physical injury to such domestic victim by means of any deadly weapon.
Domestic assault in the second degree is a Class D felony in Missouri. The penalties for a Class D felony conviction can include up to seven years in prison.
Domestic Assault in the First Degree
Under Missouri Revised Statute § 565.072, domestic assault in the first degree involves attempting to kill or knowingly causing or attempting to cause serious physical injury to a domestic victim.
Domestic assault in the first degree is a Class B felony. The penalties for a Class B felony conviction can include 5 to 15 years in prison.
If the person inflicts “serious physical injury,” the first-degree domestic assault can be charged as a Class A felony. The penalties for a Class A felony conviction can include 10 to 30 years in prison or life imprisonment.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor Conviction for Domestic Assault in Missouri
There is a big difference between a misdemeanor and a felony conviction. With a felony conviction on your record, the consequences of the felony will continue long after serving any jail sentence and parole or probation. A felony conviction may affect your ability to find a job, get housing, or own a firearm.
The court has some discretion in Class D and Class E felony convictions in Missouri. The court can sentence an individual convicted of a Class E or Class D felony to no more than one year in county jail. If the sentence is more than one year, it will generally be in state prison. The court can also grant probation for some felony convictions.
Protection Orders After Domestic Assault
In many domestic assault situations, a protection order will be issued to prohibit contact between the alleged victim and alleged assailant. A full order of protection will involve a hearing before the court so the respondent has a chance to be heard. An ex parte order of protection can be issued on a temporary basis before the respondent has a chance to respond to the petition.
Protection orders generally prohibit contact between the respondent and the alleged victim. This may also prohibit the person from going to the other's home, workplace, school, and family members' homes. It also generally prohibits attempting to contact the other through the phone, email, social media, or text.
Violating a protection order can result in penalties, including fines and criminal misdemeanor or felony charges.
Protection Orders After Domestic Assault
Many domestic disputes or contentious child custody or divorce cases, may end in threat of violence. The couple involved, friends, family, or neighbors may report the fighting to police who make an arrest for domestic assault, even if the police did not witness any assault or are unsure who was the primary aggressor. Many innocent people end up arrested in domestic assault calls and those people deserve a strong legal defense to avoid a criminal conviction.
Missouri Domestic Violence Lawyer
Accusations of domestic violence can damage a person's reputation and harm their case in a child custody dispute. Cass County Higher Level Legal Law Firm has years of experience defending clients facing criminal charges in Missouri. Contact the Higher Level Legal Law Firm today at (816) 331-9968 for a consultation.