You have been charged with domestic violence. You may think you will just plead guilty and tell the judge you will never do it again. Maybe you will attempt to justify the actions you are accused of. Perhaps you think you can talk the victim out of testifying against you and the charge will be dismissed.
The fact is that domestic violence charges are more rigorously prosecuted than the same charges when the victim does not fall into the realm of “domestic” as defined by law. Where the law is concerned, “family matters” are among the most egregious of all. You need to take a domestic violence charge very seriously and resist facing one without experienced legal defense. Moreover, you need to take it seriously regardless of whether you are guilty, innocent, or there are extenuating circumstances.
Because the prosecution works more diligently to prove guilt in domestic violence cases, I work even harder to provide a defense for my clients accused of such crimes. If you have been charged with domestic violence in St. Louis, Missouri, or in the surrounding counties, we should talk.
What Is Domestic Violence in Missouri?
Domestic violence includes many of the same elements as other criminal violence charges, such as assault, sexual assault, abuse, battery, stalking, and harassment. If you have a certain relationship with the victim, “domestic” is attached to the charge.
In Missouri, domestic relationships include:
- A spouse or former spouse;
- An intimate partner or former one;
- Someone you live with or used to live with;
- Someone related by blood, by marriage (such as a stepchild or in-law), or adoption; and,
- Someone with whom you share a child, regardless of whether you have ever been married, lived together, or had any relationship with that person besides sharing biological parenthood.
Personal relationships determine domesticity under the law. The justice system takes a hard line with alleged crimes because they are so personal in nature.
You should also know that merely the credible threat of domestic abuse or domestic violence is enough for you to be charged. You don’t have to injure the victim or even touch them if the threat causes them to fear that you will.
For example, a man gets into the face of his ex-wife, forcing her to move back and trapping her against a wall. He is yelling that he will kill her if she remarries. He doesn’t have to touch her. If she is frightened and believes he will do what he says, the man can be charged with domestic violence.
What May Happen if I’m Charged With Domestic Violence?
There are many possible consequences of a domestic violence charge in Missouri. Penalties will depend on whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony, whether you have a history of domestic violence, and how severe the victim’s injuries are.
Often the initial consequence is being arrested without a warrant, held in jail without bail, and subjected to an order of protection that could keep you from returning to your home or seeing your children. Although this sounds contrary to a justice system that purports that people are innocent until proven guilty, law enforcement and judges will err on the side of the alleged victim to protect them. Regardless of what happened, you should call a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. My job will be to protect your rights.
There are multiple consequences you may face with a domestic violence charge or conviction:
- You may be confined in jail with no bail upon arrest.
- You may be incarcerated if convicted.
- The court may order supervised probation in lieu of some jail time.
- The court may order you to complete a treatment program such as those for anger management or drug or alcohol abuse. You will have to pay for the treatment yourself.
- The judge may issue a protective or restraining order that prohibits you from having any contact with the victim and perhaps with your children or other vulnerable people in your life.
- If you are not a U.S. citizen, you face deportation.
- As a result of a domestic violence charge, you will likely lose your job. This could occur due to missing work, being unable to work in the same location as the victim, or simply because your employer does not want a violent employee.
- You may have to move. Moreover, it may be difficult to find a landlord willing to rent to you or a lender willing to extend a mortgage.
- You may lose your right to own or possess a firearm, even if it is a misdemeanor offense.
- If the charge is sexual in nature, you may have to register as a sex offender.
- You can lose custody of your children, be subject to supervised visitation, or have no visitation at all.
Is There Any Defense Against Domestic Violence Charges?
Certainly, it seems that if you are charged with domestic violence, there seems to be no presumption of innocence. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can pursue a range of possible defenses depending on the circumstances of the incident that led to your arrest:
- The allegations of the accuser may lack credibility or evidence.
- You may be able to prove a lack of intent. For example, the victim cut their foot on broken glass after you slammed a door to leave and the window broke.
- You may be able to prove that the incident was an argument blown out of proportion rather than being threatening or violent.
- You may prove the accuser is lying or motivated by a desire to harm you because of a custody battle or in retaliation for an affair.
- You may prove that your actions were in self-defense or in defense of someone else and that the accuser was the aggressor.
Get Trusted Legal Action Today
The best thing you can do if you are charged with domestic violence in the St. Louis area is to call The Summary Law Firm and refrain from answering any questions or volunteering any information until we can talk. Domestic violence often pits one person’s story against another’s, rather than irrefutable evidence.
The consequences of a domestic violence charge are dire. Let me use my experience in your defense. Call now.