If you have been charged with domestic violence, formally referred to as “domestic assault,” in Tennessee, you need to understand what the prosecution must prove to convict you and what penalties you face if convicted. Because every domestic assault prosecution involves unique facts and circumstances, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In the meantime, a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains what you need to know about the criminal offense of domestic assault in Tennessee.
What Qualifies as Domestic Assault in Tennessee?
The criminal offense of “assault” is defined in Tennessee Code §39-13-101 as follows:
- 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.
For an assault to be considered a domestic assault, the alleged victim must fall into one of the categories defined in Tennessee Code §39-13-111 which include:
- 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 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 descriptions.
What Are the Basic Penalties for a Domestic Assault Conviction?
Whether you accept a guilty plea agreement or are convicted at trial, a first-time conviction for domestic assault subjects you to the same basic penalties as a conviction for any other assault, including:
- Up to 11 months and 29 days in jail
- A fine of up to $200
- Supervised probation
- Drug and alcohol evaluation and/or treatment
What Are Some Additional Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction in Tennessee?
While you face all the same basic penalties for domestic assault as you would for any other assault if convicted, there are some additional penalties and collateral consequences associated with a domestic assault, including:
- Previous convictions. If you have a previous conviction for domestic assault, you may be sentenced to additional time in jail or prison and ordered to pay a larger fine.
- Mandatory sentencing. If you have a history of domestic assault, you face mandatory jail time if convicted. For example, a second conviction comes with a mandatory 30 days in jail while a third conviction subjects you to a mandatory 90 days in jail.
- Firearms ban. Immediately upon conviction of domestic assault, the judge will enter an order requiring you to surrender all firearms within your possession within 48 hours. You will be prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms once the conviction is entered.
- No contact order. Typically, the court will enter or continue a no-contact order prohibiting you from having any contact with the victim. The order may also include minor children. Violating the no-contact order will violate your probation or parole and is a separate criminal offense.
- Child custody/visitation. If you have minor children and they were involved in the incident for which you were arrested, or they live with the victim, your sentencing terms may prohibit you from having contact with them or provide issues with your parenting time arrangements.
- Expungement. Although domestic assault is often charged as a misdemeanor, a domestic assault conviction is not eligible for expungement in Tennessee, meaning the conviction will remain on your criminal record for life.
Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Attorney
If you or your child have been charged with domestic assault in Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
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