by Jonathan Carroll and Ryan C. Davis
Who can be charged with Domestic Assault?
In Tennessee, you can be charged with domestic assault for committing assault against anyone deemed a domestic abuse victim. Who is a domestic assault victim? Tennessee law has a broad definition which goes far beyond just a romantic relationship. A domestic abuse victim can include any of the following:
- Current or former spouses
- People who are dating or had a previous sexual relationship
- Anyone related by blood or adoption
- Current or former in-laws
- An adult or minor child of a person that is in a relationship with anyone included in the above categories
Is it their word against mine?
Simply put, yes. If there are no other witnesses, it is the alleged victim’s word against yours. When an officer is called to a scene for an allegation of domestic assault, most police departments have a policy which states that the preferred response is to make an arrest. The officer’s goal is to determine who the “primary aggressor” is, then place that person under arrest. If the only witnesses are the alleged victim and the accused, the result is a case of “he said, she said.”
Penalties for domestic assault can be severe. Initially, any domestic assault arrests require the accused to be held for a minimum of 12 hours in jail before they are able to post bond. This alone is a traumatic experience for most people accused of domestic assault. A conviction for misdemeanor domestic assault can result in possible jail time of up to 11 months and 29 days, result in the loss of your ability to ever possess a firearm, and the conviction can never be expunged.
Given what’s at stake when you are charged with these types of crimes, it’s important to hire an attorney immediately to begin preparing your defense.