If you are being abused by your partner, you can contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Domestic violence cases are a commonly misunderstood area of the law because of the stigma associated with the concept of abuse. Obviously, domestic violence is disgusting and those who are guilty of committing such a crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But in order to discuss this topic, we have to keep emotion out of it and look at the facts.
Unlike regular assault charges, domestic violence cases carry specific elements and have unique consequences. Acts that are considered domestic violence assault are usually different from ordinary assault, and the penalties are often more serious under certain circumstances. So, let’s get into today’s post: can you go to prison for domestic violence?
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- State laws do vary
- Different degrees of domestic assault
- A first time offender probably won’t go to prison
- What happens when someone is arrested for domestic violence?
State laws do vary
The laws in most states criminalize violence against people that you have some kind of existing relationship with. State laws do vary, but a person is usually guilty of domestic assault if they commit assault against a certain kind of victim:
- a current or former spouse
- a family member by blood or marriage
- a person with whom the offender lives or previously lived
- a person with whom the offender has or had a dating or romantic relationship, or
- a person with whom the offender has a child.
Different degrees of domestic assault
In my home state of Missouri, there are different degrees of domestic violence assault charges (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) which are based on the crime committed. Domestic Assault in the Third Degree is committed when someone commits any of the following acts against someone who is designated a “domestic victim.”
- attempts to cause or recklessly causes physical injury
- acting with criminal negligence, physically injures a domestic victim by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
- threatens a victim, causing the victim to fear immediate bodily injury
- recklessly engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death or serious physical injury
- intentionally engages in physical contact with the victim, knowing that the victim will find the contact offensive, or
- knowingly attempts to cause or causes isolation of the victim by unreasonably or substantially restricting or limiting access to other persons, communication devices, or transportation.
This charge is a Class A misdemeanor in my state, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. However, if the offense is a third conviction, it is a felony that is punishable by up to four years in prison.
Domestic Assault in the Second Degree is charged when someone attempts to cause or knowingly causes physical injury to a domestic victim by means of a deadly weapon/dangerous instrument/choking/strangulation. It can also be charged when someone recklessly causes serious physical injury. This charge is a Class C felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Domestic Assault in the First Degree is charged when someone attempts to kill a domestic victim or knowingly causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to a domestic victim. If the victim does have a serious injury, it is a class A felony, punishable by 10 to 30 years or life in prison.
If the crime doesn’t result in serious physical injury to the victim, it is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Again, these are not universal punishments or laws. They do vary by state. We are not lawyers and are not qualified to give legal advice. If you are the victim of domestic violence, please contact an attorney. If you are in immediate danger, please contact the police.
A first time offender probably won’t go to prison
A first time domestic violence offender is not necessarily viewed the same way as those with a history of domestic abuse. Unless there are aggravating circumstances, a first offense is generally charged as a misdemeanor. In that case, the offender is looking at up to one year in jail and fines.
The court will view repeat offenses as a behavioral pattern and will usually act more harshly to protect the victims and the community.
What happens when someone is arrested for domestic violence?
Because prison isn’t a guarantee for domestic violence offenders, victims are often scared to report abuse and press charges. The unknown can be scary, but here is what usually happens when someone is arrested for domestic violence.
The first step is that the accused gets arrested and booked into the county or city jail. Then, an arraignment will take place, where the courts make it clear what the suspect is being accused of. This is when the accused person will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
This is also the point where bail is set, or the suspect is released on their own recognizance. After the arraignment, the court will schedule new court dates for the rest of the proceeding.
Depending on the situation, the suspect may remain in jail, but that’s not always a sure thing. If you have pressed domestic violence charges against someone, it’s a good idea to contact friends or family members for assistance. Or, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Again, please contact a lawyer to get specific legal advice for your state. We are not lawyers and do not give legal advice. This blog post is for informational purposes only.
What domestic violence resources are in your area? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: Missouri Domestic Violence Laws https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/criminal-defense/domestic-violence/missouri-domestic-violence-laws-charges-penalt What Happens to First-Time Domestic Violence Offenders? https://fordlawokc.com/what-happens-to-first-time-domestic-violence-offenders/ How long do you go to jail for domestic violence? https://www.goldmanwetzel.com/blog/how-long-do-you-go-to-jail-for-domestic-violence/ What people don't know about domestic assault https://krupplawfirm.com/criminal-defense/domestic-assault-charges/