Domestic assault is a serious criminal charge in the State of Tennessee. Although domestic assault is typically a misdemeanor, the ramifications are serious and the consequences can affect you for literally the rest of your life. If you are charged with domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault or domestic vandalism, you should call Houston & Alexander immediately. The sooner we get started on your case, the quicker we can formulate a strategy for your defense.
Domestic assault cases are generally thought to involve husband and wife, as in spousal abuse situations. However, domestic assault charges can involve family members, ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends, roommates, house-mates, basically any two people who are in a domestic relationship.
Types of Domestic Violence Cases
Domestic violence crimes can be charged as “simple domestic assault,” “aggravated domestic assault” and “domestic vandalism.” “Simple domestic assault” and “domestic vandalism” are both Class A misdemeanors and carry a possible jail sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail. If you are convicted of either of these crimes, you might have to serve jail time but you will also lose your right to own or possess a firearm for the rest of your life! If protecting your second Amendment right is important, call Houston & Alexander immediately to schedule an appointment.
“Aggravated domestic assault” is generally a class C Felony and carries a sentence of 3-6 years, even as a first-time offender. Also, by virtue of the felony as well as the domestic violence nature of the offense, you will lose your right to possess or own a firearm.
“Domestic vandalism” is one person intentionally damages not only the property owned by a domestic partner but also property that is jointly owned. For example, if the parties get in an argument and one party decides to throw a dish for example and that dish breaks, there can be a charge of “domestic vandalism.” “Domestic vandalism” carries the same punishment as a domestic assault.
Primary Aggressor Goes to Jail
Often times, couples will argue and one party decides to call the police just to get the other party to leave. Tennessee law says that if there is any evidence of an assault, the police try to determine which person is the primary aggressor and that person is arrested and taken to jail. What could likely have been avoided has now turned into a very serious criminal matter.
After arrest and going to jail, a domestic violence defendant goes before a judicial magistrate to determine if bond should be set as well as appropriate conditions of release. There will be a “cooling off” period of 12 hours before the defendant is released. Prior to the release, the magistrate will almost always set bond conditions of release that prohibit any contact between the parties while the case is pending. That means no phone calls, no text messages, no staying in the same residence. Often, a defendant is left without a place to live and is unable to return to his or her residence to retrieve personal items. If you have been ordered to stay away from the alleged victim and you are caught violating that order, you will likely go to jail and may even be held without bond while the case is pending. The attorneys at Houston & Alexander, PLLC can assist in dealing with these conditions of release and may even be able to convince the judge and DA that the conditions are unnecessary and they are lifted.
Can a Domestic Violence Charge be Dropped?
Often a “victim” in a domestic assault case was the actual initial aggressor and goes to court thinking they can dismiss the charges but quickly finds out they have little influence with the DA or the judge. A domestic assault charge is essentially brought by the State against the Defendant and the DA alone makes the ultimate decision to whether a case is dismissed or compromised. If you are an alleged victim in a case and you do not want to proceed (and there may be valid reasons why do you not), you should also speak with an attorney so that your rights are protected.
Domestic Assault in Divorce Cases
In divorce cases, very often an aggrieved spouse will call the police and claim domestic assault when it is completely false just to gain an advantage in divorce proceedings and in child custody arrangements. If you are in a divorce case or a divorce filing is imminent, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
Do You Need a Lawyer in a Domestic Violence Case?
If you have been charged with a domestic assault or spousal abuse case in Tennessee, you need to immediately speak with an attorney at Houston & Alexander, PLLC at 423-267-6715 to discuss your options so that you are not saddled with a conviction for the rest of your life. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, there may still be a way for you to ultimately have a clean record.