- Missouri Domestic Violence
- Missouri Domestic Violence Law
- Domestic Assault Crimes and Penalties
- Domestic Assault in the Fourth Degree – MO Rev Stat § 565.076
- Domestic Assault in the Third Degree – MO Rev Stat § 565.074
- Domestic Assault in the Second Degree – MO Rev Stat § 565.073
- Domestic Assault in the First Degree – MO Rev Stat § 565.072
- Contact a Missouri Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Today
Missouri Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is not uncommon in Missouri. The unfortunate truth is that thousands of Missourians become victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape and stalking every year. As a result, crimes against intimate partners and family and household members are taken very seriously by Missouri police and prosecutors. In fact, any officer with probable cause has the authority to immediately arrest a person suspected of abusing a family or household member, even if the officer did not witness the alleged abuse and alleged victim does not wish to press charges. Unfortunately, this opens the door for false claims of domestic assault, and in many cases, it is one person’s word against the other. Being charged with a domestic violence crime in Missouri is serious, and a conviction comes with devastating consequences that can haunt you for years to come. Fortunately, legal help is available. If you have been arrested or charged with domestic assault or another domestic violence-related crime in Missouri, a qualified Missouri criminal defense attorney with a specialty in domestic violence defense can help.
Missouri Domestic Violence Law
Missouri domestic violence laws make it a crime to commit assault against a “domestic victim,” meaning a family or household member of the offender, including any child who is a member of the offender’s family or household. Each state has its own laws detailing specifically which individuals legally qualify as “family and household members.” In Missouri, this category includes spouses, former spouses, any person related to the offender by blood or marriage, any person who is currently living with the offender or who lived with the offender in the past, any person who is or has been in a continuing romantic or intimate relationship with the offender, and any person who has a child in common with the offender (MO Rev Stat § 455.010).
Domestic Assault Crimes and Penalties
The most common domestic violence-related crime in Missouri is domestic assault. Domestic assault in Missouri is classified by degree and ranges from the least serious type of assault (fourth-degree domestic assault) to the most serious type of assault (first-degree domestic assault). Some other criminal offenses that may be related to Missouri domestic assault include harassment, stalking, false imprisonment, rape, sexual abuse and kidnapping.
Domestic Assault in the Fourth Degree – MO Rev Stat § 565.076
Domestic assault in the fourth degree is the least serious domestic assault offense in Missouri. It is also the broadest. The crime of fourth-degree domestic assault occurs when any person:
- Attempts to cause or recklessly causes physical injury, physical pain or illness to a domestic victim,
- With criminal negligence, causes physical injury to a domestic victim by means of a deadly weapon,
- Purposely places a domestic victim in fear of immediate physical injury,
- Recklessly engages in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to a domestic victim,
- Knowingly causes offensive physical contact with a domestic victim, or
- Knowingly attempts to cause or causes the isolation of a domestic victim by unreasonably and substantially restricting his or her access to other people, the phone or transportation.
In most cases, domestic assault in the fourth degree is a Class A misdemeanor in Missouri, punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. However, if the defendant has two or more prior domestic assault convictions, a new fourth-degree domestic assault may be charged as a Class E felony, carrying a more severe penalty of up to four years in prison.
Domestic Assault in the Third Degree – MO Rev Stat § 565.074
Domestic assault in the third degree occurs when a person attempts to cause physical injury or knowingly causes physical pain or illness to a domestic victim. This crime is classified as a Class E felony in Missouri, and a conviction under MO Rev Stat § 565.074 carries a possible penalty of up to four years in prison.
Domestic Assault in the Second Degree – MO Rev Stat § 565.073
Domestic assault in the second degree occurs when a person knowingly causes physical injury to a domestic victim by any means, including choking, strangulation or use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, recklessly causes serious physical injury to a domestic victim, or recklessly causes physical injury to a domestic victim by means of a deadly weapon. Second-degree domestic assault is a Class D felony in Missouri and the criminal penalties imposed by the court upon conviction may include up to seven years in prison.
Domestic Assault in the First Degree – MO Rev Stat § 565.072
Domestic assault in the first degree is the state of Missouri’s most serious kind of domestic assault. A person is guilty of first-degree domestic assault in Missouri if he or she attempts to kill or knowingly causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to a domestic victim. Domestic assault in the first degree is typically charged as a Class B felony in Missouri, punishable by between five and 15 years in prison. However, if the defendant inflicts serious physical injury on the domestic victim, the crime is a Class A felony, the most serious of felony charges, punishable by between 10 and 30 years in prison, or even life imprisonment.
Contact a Missouri Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Today
In an effort to reduce the prevalence of domestic violence crimes across the state, Missouri has taken steps recently to expand its domestic violence laws and attach harsher penalties to misdemeanor and felony domestic assault offenses. If you are found guilty of first-, second-, third- or fourth-degree domestic assault in Missouri, a knowledgeable domestic violence defense lawyer can carefully review your case and determine the best path forward based on your specific situation, whether that means working towards getting the charges dismissed, exploring your plea options or representing you at trial. A conviction for Missouri domestic assault will become part of your permanent criminal record and that can alter the course of your entire life, so don’t hesitate to retain the services of a highly skilled criminal defense attorney when facing domestic violence charges in Missouri.