Domestic Violence

What is domestic violence?  

A pattern of behaviors used in a relationship to establish and maintain power and control, which often includes physical violence.  

Who qualifies as a domestic victim?  

A “domestic victim” is a family or household member: spouses, former spouses, any person related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together or have resided together in the past, any person who is or has been in a continuing social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim, and anyone who has a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have resided together at any time.  

What is domestic assault in the first degree?  

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. Domestic assault in the first degree is a class B felony unless in the course thereof the person inflicts serious physical injury, in which case it is a class A felony. The range of punishment for a class B felony is five to 15 years in the Department of Corrections. The range of punishment for a class A felony is 10-30 years or life in the Department of Corrections.  

What is domestic assault in the second degree?  

A person commits the offense of domestic assault in the second degree if the act involves a domestic victim, and he or she: (1) knowingly causes physical injury to such domestic victim by any means, including but not limited to, use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, or by choking or strangulation; or (2) recklessly causes serous physical injury to such domestic victim; or (3) recklessly causes physical injury to such domestic victim by means of any deadly weapon. Domestic assault in the second degree is a class D felony. The range of punishment for a class D felony is up to one year in the county jail, two years to seven years in the Department of Corrections, and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000.  

What is domestic assault in the third degree?  

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. Domestic assault in the third degree is a class E felony. The range of punishment for a class E felony is up to one year in the county jail, two years to four years in the Department of Corrections, and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000.  

What is domestic assault in the fourth degree?  

A person commits the offense of domestic assault in the fourth degree if the act involves a domestic victim and: (1) the person attempts to cause or recklessly causes physical injury, physical pain, or illness to the domestic victim; or (2) with criminal negligence the person causes physical injury by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument; or (3) the person purposely places a domestic victim in apprehension of immediate physical injury by any means; or (4) the person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to such domestic victim; or (5) the person knowingly causes physical contact with such domestic victim knowing he or she will regard the conduct as offensive; or (6) the person knowingly attempts to cause or causes the isolation of such domestic victim by unreasonably and substantially restricting or limiting his or her access to other persons, telecommunication devices, or transportation for the purpose of isolation. The offense of domestic assault in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor, unless the person has previously been found guilty of the offense of domestic assault, in which case it is a class E felony. The range of punishment for a class A misdemeanor is up to one year in the county jail and/or a fine not to exceed $2,000. 

Rights of Victims of Domestic Assault  

Victims in Missouri are guaranteed certain rights about their participation in the criminal legal system. To find out more about crime victims’ rights, you may contact your local prosecuting attorney’s office, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office at 573-751-1338, or the Missouri Department of Public Safety Crime Victim Services Unit at 866-334-6682. You also may read the Missouri Victims’ Rights laws in Chapter 595 RSMo., which is available online at revisor.mo.gov.

Additional Resources 

Domestic Violence and the Law: A Practical Guide for Survivors (2019 ed.) 

This guide is for victims of domestic violence. It is a collaborative effort by the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) and the Young Lawyers’ Section (YLS) of The Missouri Bar. This booklet includes practical information for domestic violence survivors about participating in Missouri’s legal system. Topics include Orders of Protection, law enforcement response to domestic violence, Missouri Legal Service offices, safety planning, and domestic and sexual assault offenses.

To find a comprehensive list of domestic and sexual violence shelters and service providers go to mocadsv.org  and click on “How To Get Help?

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