Missouri law defines domestic assault as knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical injury to a member of your family or household. Depending upon the seriousness of the assault, an individual can be charged with first-, second- third- or fourth-degree assault.

In summary, first-degree domestic assault occurs when a person attempts to kill or knowingly causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury.

Second-degree domestic assault occurs when a person causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to a family member using a dangerous instrument or weapon.

Third-degree domestic assault occurs when a person attempts to cause physical injury or knowingly causes physical pain or illness to a family member.

Fourth-degree assault occurs when a person commits any of a list of actions that includes causing physical injury or making a family member afraid of injury. It can also be fourth-degree domestic assault if a person knowingly causes unreasonable isolation from others. 

Understanding domestic assault in Missouri

Many individuals are surprised to be arrested for domestic assault because they do not feel that their actions met the requirements for being charged. Having a better understanding of domestic assault charges can help prevent a person from being arrested.

Physical violence  is not necessary. A person can commit domestic assault without using physical force or by injuring someone accidentally. Domestic assault can even occur when a person makes a family member afraid of immediate physical harm or recklessly causes injury.

An alleged victim cannot drop chargesMissouri, like many other states, has a “no-drop” policy, which is an attempt to protect victims of domestic violence who may continue to be intimidated by an alleged abuser after an arrest. If an alleged victim changes their story, prosecutors can call other witnesses to testify about original statements the alleged victim made to make the case.

A previous domestic assault incident may be used against you. If evidence exists that a defendant previously abused the alleged victim, it may be presented in the current case.

A domestic assault plea or conviction can affect your gun rights. Gun owners must be aware that a plea or conviction for domestic assault may prohibit ownership of any type of firearms.

Domestic assault charges are a serious matter. It is always wise to enlist the help of experienced criminal defense attorneys who can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf.