Civil and Criminal Domestic Assault Cases

Domestic assault in Missouri is a serious crime with serious penalties. Domestic violence is considered a violent crime with aggressive behavior from a person who is usually injuring another person. Bodily harm in varying degrees is often the outcome of these crimes and the perpetrator may be arrested and charged with felony or misdemeanor assault in Missouri. Due to their nature, domestic violence cases can be some of the most emotionally and mentally trying types of criminal cases, for all parties involved. Additionally, cases of domestic assault in Missouri are processed differently than other types of criminal cases such as drug possession, theft, DWIs, passing a bad check, etc.

This article discusses the process of a Missouri domestic assault case, including, but not limited to information about dropping charges, the difference between civil suits and criminal cases, and penalties for the crime.

Types of Missouri Domestic Assault Cases

In the world of domestic assault cases, two types of cases can emerge. One is a criminal case, this is the one that many of us are more aware of and typically occurs once the police become involved. The other type is a civil suit.

Criminal Cases

Domestic assault in Missouri

Criminal action is usually taken after an arrest has been made or police have been called to the scene for domestic assault in Missouri. After the accused person is arrested for the crime, an arraignment will take place. This is the point in time in which allegations are issued, in addition with the plea of guilty or not-guilty from the person being charged with the crime(s). Before any of this takes place, you will want to have contacted a criminal defense attorney in Springfield, MO. They can walk you through the process before it happens and help you to choose the most advantageous way to plea against the allegations placed against you. After the arraignment, new court dates will be set and an attorney will usually enter into pretrial negotiations. During this time your defense attorney will use facts garnered from investigating evidence and contacting witnesses to build a strong defense against the charges placed against the defendant.

Trial By Jury

If a person is accused of felony or misdemeanor domestic assault in Missouri, he or she has the right to a trial by jury. A domestic assault trial by jury can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months before all the evidence and testimonies have been seen and heard. This includes evidence that was found at the scene of the crime, incriminating evidence, and witness testimonies from the law enforcement officers who made the arrest to the victim or victims, as well as eyewitnesses.

Can a Victim of Domestic Assault Drop the Charges?

One unusual aspect of domestic assault cases is that many times the victim will try to either drop the charges or not press any charges at all. However, in most cases it is almost impossible for a victim of domestic assault to drop the charges against their abuser. The reason for this is simple in that domestic assault is a crime, and crimes are governed by the state they occur in. Similarly, crimes are issued by the State, not the victim.

Civil Suits

Domestic assault in Missouri

In addition to criminal court, another type of domestic assault case is when a victim files a civil suit against their abuser. A civil suit can be filed as a stand alone case or in addition to a criminal case. As previously mentioned, criminal cases are issued by the state, not the victim, but in regards to civil suits the opposite is true. In other words, a victim can choose to pursue a civil suit, but it doesn’t have to happen. Some states still follow the traditional rule that barrs family members from suing one another (there are some exceptions), Missouri is one of them. What this means is that in the state of Missouri, if a domestic assault victim is related to their abuser, they cannot move forward in a civil suit, except maybe in some extenuating circumstances. Although this rule holds for family members, if the domestic assault civil suit is against a non-family member, the victim can fully proceed with this lawsuit.

The reason that many victims choose to file a civil suit against their abuser is to help them obtain money to assist them with anything from loss of wages, injuries and any other costs related or associated with the abuse. Additionally, civil suits are usually easier to win for the victim than criminal cases, since in a civil case you only have to prove that it is more likely than not that the person accused of the crime did commit the alleged acts, rather than in court where the abuser must be proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The Penalties for Domestic Assault in Missouri

The penalties for domestic assault range in severity of the degree of the crime. Most all domestic assault defendants, if found guilty of the crime, will face fines, community service requirements, jail time, and may be required to take therapy and or other domestic course. The penalties for domestic assault in Missouri, include:

  • Domestic Assault in the First Degree (Class A or B Felony) – Domestic Assault in the first degree is defined as, “Domestic assault, first degree — penalty. — 1. A person commits the offense of domestic assault in the first degree if he or she attempts to kill or knowingly causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to a domestic victim, as the term “domestic victim” is defined under section 565.002.” If convicted of a Class B Felony, the penalty is a sentence of no less the five years in prison and no more than fifteen years. The penalty for a Class A Felony in Missouri is a sentence of no less than 10 years in the DOC, not to exceed 30 years or life in prison.
  • Domestic Assault in the Second Degree(Class D Felony) – Missouri Laws 565.073 state that, A person commits the offense of domestic assault in the second degree if the act involves a domestic victim… and he or she, Knowingly causes physical injury by any means, including but not limited to, use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, choking or strangulation. Recklessly causes serious physical injury or recklessly causes physical injury by means of a deadly weapon.The penalties for a Class D Felony or domestic assault and battery in Missouri in the second degree are fines up to $10,000 (not including court and attorney fees) and up to seven years in prison.
  • Domestic Assault in the Third Degree(Class E Felony) – Missouri Laws 565.074, “ A person commits the offense of domestic assault in the third degree if he or she attempts to cause physical injury or knowingly causes physical pain or illness to a domestic victim, as the term “domestic victim” is defined under section 565.002.If convicted of this crime, the penalties for a Class E Felony in Missouri include, up to four years in the Department of Corrections, along with fines up to $10,000, court fees and attorney fees.

Both criminal and civil domestic violence cases can be confusing and emotionally trying for both parties involved. If you or a loved one is facing allegations of felony domestic assault in Springfield, MO, contact Missouri Legal today.