Under Missouri law, many different criminal offenses can fall into the category of domestic violence. Being convicted of any one of these crimes can have serious family-related consequences for a defendant, even if the conviction doesn’t result in a jail sentence. If you have been charged with a domestic offense, then early intervention by a criminal defense attorney is crucial to protecting your rights and freedom.

Domestic assault is one of the most common kinds of domestic violence crimes. In terms of possible penalties and the kinds of actions allegedly involved, domestic assault in Missouri is divided into three degrees: third-degree, second-degree and first-degree, with first-degree domestic assault being the most serious.

A person charged with first-degree domestic assault is accused of trying to kill a member of the household, or of knowingly causing or trying to cause serious injury to a member of the household. If the defendant is accused of inflicting serious injury or has been convicted of first-degree domestic assault before, then the charged is upgraded from a Class B felony to a Class A felony.

The law defines second-degree domestic assault, which is a Class C felony, as knowingly causing or trying to cause serious injury to a household member, particularly by strangulation or use of a deadly weapon or instrument.

Third-degree domestic assault covers a variety of actions, including negligently injuring a household member by use of a deadly weapon; offensively touching a household member; recklessly putting a household member into a situation with a high risk of injury or death; and unreasonably isolating a household member. In many cases, third-degree domestic assault is a Class A misdemeanor but can be upgraded to a Class D felony if the defendant has prior domestic assault convictions.

Overcharging is common in domestic violence cases. To protect against this and to ensure that your side of the story is told, speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.