Being accused or charged with domestic violence offenses is an incredibly stressful experience and one you shouldn’t go through alone. A domestic violence charge is a serious accusation and can completely derail your life if you don’t do everything you can to prevent it. The best way to do this is to choose a domestic violence lawyer you can trust to fight the charges with you.
In recent years domestic violence cases garnered substantial media attention which resulted in stricter laws and harsher punishments all across the United States, including here in Missouri.
What constitutes domestic violence?
Domestic violence, also often referred to as “adult abuse” in Missouri, includes:
- Spousal abuse
- Domestic dispute
- Any physical harm you cause toward someone who lives under your roof
- Any physical harm you cause toward someone in your family or household through your negligence
- Purposely isolating someone
It differs from a normal assault charge because there is an established relationship between those involved, and the repercussions of domestic abuse are more serious than their assault charge equivalents.
This relationship is typically between two people who are, or who once were, in a romantic relationship, but can also include any family member by blood or marriage, and anyone the offender currently lives with or who lived with in the past.
If you want to know more, read our Complete Guide to Missouri Domestic Violence Laws.
What are the possible punishments for a domestic violence charge in Missouri?
There are four degrees of domestic assault charges; the fourth degree was only added in 2017 to ensure all victims could seek prosecution for any level of physical or isolating abuse.
1st Degree domestic assault includes any attempts to kill or knowingly cause (or attempt to cause) serious physical injury. 1st-degree domestic assault is a Class B felony unless there are exceptional circumstances (like a second offense), in which case it becomes a Class A felony. A class B felony comes with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, while a Class A maximum term is a life term.
2nd Degree domestic assault includes any attempt to cause (or knowingly cause) serious injury with a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, or via strangulation. 2nd-degree domestic assault is a Class C felony. The maximum sentence for a class C felony is 7 years in prison.
3rd Degree domestic assault includes any attempts to cause (or knowingly cause) physical injury, puts the victim in harm’s way through negligent behavior. It also covers any other physical assault to a household member, or knowingly isolating the victim. 3rd-degree domestic assault is a Class E felony.
4th Degree domestic assault includes any attempts to cause (or negligently cause) physical injury, pain, or illness to the victim. 4th degree is a Class A misdemeanor. A class A misdemeanor has a maximum sentence of 1-year imprisonment.
Other possible punishments:
- Judges also have the ability to order someone to stop abusing, harassing, or stalking a victim through a temporary measure or full order. They have the right to refuse bond or to set bond extremely high if they believe the accused poses a risk to the victim or community.
- In most cases, if you are convicted of a domestic violence crime you will lose your right to own firearms.
- In Missouri, anyone convicted of domestic assault may be required to pay restitution to the victim, which involves paying for any costs that resulted from the crime, such as medical bills, repairs, and counseling.
You should also be aware that if you have children you may need to fight to retain custody of those children throughout your case.
What to Do If You Are Charged
If you are concerned that you may be the subject of a domestic violence charge, or if you have been arrested, it’s important for you to contact a St. Louis domestic violence attorney soon as possible. All our clients have the personal attention of Chris Combs from day one. You won’t be a number on a list – he will always be there when you need him.
Can I do anything to minimize the consequences of my charge?
Of course, having a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side is the best way to minimize the consequences of your charge, and maybe your only option depending on the judge presiding over your case.
Judges often get involved in domestic violence cases to work with families and mend broken relationships, wherever possible. The judge and prosecutor in your case often like to see the defendant take steps to tackle the underlying cause of the event through counseling or another suitable treatment. This is often a wise path to take as it can help you avoid some of the consequences of a domestic violence charge.
Find a Compassionate Missouri Domestic Violence Attorney
If you are facing domestic violence charges in St. Louis, you need to find a compassionate and competent domestic violence attorney as soon as possible. Chris Combs has ensured successful outcomes for many of his domestic violence clients in the past and can do the same for you, too.
Click here to find out more about how we represent domestic violence cases. Alternatively, call us today at 314-451-2711 or send us an email to arrange your free consultation. We aim to get back to every inquiry in less than two hours.