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Understanding Domestic Assault in Tennessee

If you have been arrested and charged with domestic assault in Tennessee, it is crucial to take the accusations against you seriously because the penalties for a conviction can be severe and far-reaching. To help you get started, a Murfreesboro domestic assault lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains what you need to know about domestic assault in Tennessee.Smyrna divorce attorney

What Elements are Required to Convict Someone of “Assault?”

Under Tennessee Code §39-13-101, an assault occurs when someone does any of the following:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another.
  • Intentionally or knowingly causes another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury.
  • Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another and a reasonable person would regard the contact as extremely offensive or provocative.

What Makes an Assault a “Domestic” Assault?

A “domestic” assault is an assault, as defined in §39-13-101, that is perpetrated against a domestic abuse victim. Tennessee Code §39-13-111, in turn, defines a “domestic abuse victim” as someone who shares any of the following relationships with the defendant following:

  • Adults or minors who are current or former spouses
  • Adults or minors who live together or who have lived together
  • Adults or minors who are dating or who have dated or who have or had a sexual relationship, but does not include fraternization between two (2) individuals in a business or social context
  • Adults or minors related by blood or adoption
  • Adults or minors who are related or were formerly related by marriage
  • Adult or minor children of a person in a relationship that is described in the previous subdivisions

What Are the Potential Penalties for a Domestic Assault Conviction in Tennessee?

Domestic assault as a first offense and without aggravating circumstances is charged as a Class A or B misdemeanor. Conviction of a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine while a B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.

Aggravated assault, which requires all the elements of assault plus serious bodily injury or the use or display of a deadly weapon, may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, a Class D felony, or a Class C felony, and may carry up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted.

A second or subsequent conviction for domestic assault also carries with it a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 to 90 days, depending on how many previous convictions the defendant has for domestic assault.

Along with facing jail time, a period of time on supervised probation, and court fines/costs, conviction of domestic assault also comes with some unique additional penalties and consequences. For example, upon a conviction for domestic assault, the defendant is required by law to “terminate physical possession of all firearms in the defendant’s possession within forty-eight (48) hours.” You may also be prohibited from purchasing, owning, or carrying a firearm in the future. Domestic assault is also one of the few misdemeanors that cannot be expunged from your criminal history in Tennessee, meaning the conviction will remain on your record and accessible to future employers or landlords for life. Finally, a conviction for domestic assault may come with a permanent no-contact order that applies to the victim and any minor children. If you are the parent of those minor children, a no-contact order can prevent you from exercising parenting time with the children.

Given all the potential consequences, both legal and otherwise, of a domestic assault conviction, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced Tennessee domestic assault attorney as soon as possible if you have been accused of domestic assault.

Contact a Murfreesboro Domestic Assault Lawyer

If you or your child have been charged with domestic assault in Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with a Murfreesboro domestic assault lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.

Stan Bennett