Domestic violence or domestic assault charges in Missouri are serious and can carry severe and often life-altering penalties. If you have been accused of domestic violence in the state of Missouri, it is important to understand your options and to work quickly toward the best possible outcome. You may be able to get your charges reduced or dropped and avoid hefty fines, jail time, or blemishes to your reputation, which could affect your employment, credit, or the outcome of child custody cases.
What is domestic assault?
Missouri defines domestic assault as the assault against a household or family member. As stated in Missouri Revised Statute § 455.010, this includes spouses, former spouses, relatives (including in-laws), persons currently or in the past who have lived together, persons in a romantic or intimate relationship, or persons who have a child together, even if they have never resided together or been married.
Degrees of domestic assault in Missouri
Domestic assault is classified from the most serious first-degree assault to the less serious assault of the fourth degree.
Domestic assault in the fourth degree
In Missouri, domestic assault in the fourth degree is considered a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties for a conviction can be up to one year in jail with fines up to $2,000.
Domestic assault in the third degree
Third-degree domestic assault is more serious and is a Class E felony. Penalties include up to four years in prison.
Domestic assault in the second degree
Second-degree domestic assault, which causes severe injury by means of a deadly weapon or by choking, can result in penalties of up to seven years in prison.
Domestic assault in the first degree
Domestic assault in the first degree is the most serious charge, involving knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical injury or attempting to kill a domestic victim. This charge is considered a Class B felony with penalties of 5 to fifteen years in prison. If the injuries are severe, the charges could be bumped up to a Class A felony, with a conviction resulting in lengthier prison time, from 10 to 20 years, or even life imprisonment.
Domestic violence charges can impact your life
If charged with domestic violence, you can experience a significant impact on your life, even if you are not convicted. Your reputation can be damaged, you could lose your job or have trouble getting a new one, and it could show up on background checks and credit reports. If convicted, hefty fines and jail time can also negatively affect your future. If you are involved in child custody litigation, a conviction can also affect the outcome of that case.