Domestic violence has been at the forefront of media coverage in recent years as it is an issue that has been rampant in high-interest areas such as the sports and entertainment industries. However, the term "domestic violence" is rather broad and it is important to know what conduct qualifies as falling under the terminology.
What is domestic violence in Tupelo, Mississippi?
Section 97-3-7 of the Mississippi criminal code defines domestic violence as having taken place when a person:
- attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;
- negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm; or
- attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily harm.
For the aforementioned acts to qualify as being domestic violence, they must have been committed against:
- a current or former spouse,
- a child of that person,
- a person living as a spouse or who formerly lived as a spouse,
- a parent,
- a grandparent,
- a person who has a current or former dating relationship with that person, or
- a person with whom the aggressor has had a biological or legally adopted child.
It is important to note that to act recklessly is to act with extreme indifference to the value of human life. This means that the aggressor does not even need to actually intend to injure the victim. For example, the aggressor may intend to hit a person other than the victim but take no precautions to avoid hurting others in the area.
The law in Mississippi also breaks domestic violence crimes down into two categories: simple and aggravated.
Simple domestic assault is causing bodily injury without using a weapon and is considered to be a misdemeanor and carries lesser penalties. The act becomes aggravated and is upgraded to a felony charge when it involves serious bodily injury or if a weapon is used.
What happens when domestic violence is reported in Tupelo, Mississippi?
When a physical altercation occurs between spouses, family members, or significant others and a call is made to the police department, police will be sent to the scene of the incident. Upon arrival, the responding officers will then investigate what took place by taking the statements of anyone involved in the altercation as well as anyone that may have seen the incident take place. After statements are taken, the responding officers will then decide whether the incident is at a level that requires an arrest to be made. The law in Tupelo, Mississippi allows a police officer to arrest an individual if enough probable cause exists that leads the officer to believe an act of domestic violence was committed within 24 hours of the first report. Once someone is arrested for domestic violence, the charges typically cannot be dropped because they are issued not by the victim, but rather by the state of Mississippi. However, there are several defenses to domestic violence that are particularly important in situations where there are false allegations.
What are possible defenses to domestic violence?
When looking at possible defenses to charges concerning domestic violence, it is important to look at all of the factors surrounding the incident itself.
- Was the accused at the scene of the incident?
- Does the accused have an alibi who is willing to testify that they were not at the scene at the time of the incident?
- Did anyone witness the alleged incident?
- Are there photographs of the alleged injuries?
- Are the injuries consistent with what was reported to the police?
- Does the report given to the police match what the accused says actually happened?
- Were the injuries incurred a result of an accident?
- Were the injuries incurred a result of self-defense?
- Does the victim admit to partaking in an act of violence?
- At the scene, did the police listen to the accused's side of the story or was the alleged victim's story the only version taken into account?
- Are there inconsistencies in the alleged victim's story?
- Did the accused suffer defensive injuries?
- Did the accused request a lawyer upon arrest?
- Did the police question the accused after the right to remain silent was given?
What are the possible penalties associated with a domestic violence conviction?
If a defendant is found guilty of a domestic violence charge, their potential punishment will vary depending upon whether the charge was centered around a simple or aggravated assault.
In Tupelo, Mississippi, simple domestic violence convictions carry a penalty of up to six months in jail or a $500 fine, or both. If the defendant is found guilty of assault for the third time, the penalty can increase to a minimum of five years in prison with a maximum sentence of up to ten years. If the defendant is found guilty of an aggravated assault, they will face a minimum of two years in prison for the first or second infraction and a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to 20 years for third and subsequent convictions.
If the violent conduct was committed in the presence of a child who was under 16 years old at the time, it is possible that the court will see that as an aggravating factor and penalties may be increased.
Hiring legal counsel
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Tupelo, Mississippi, do not wait to hire competent legal representation. When it comes to a criminal charge, time is of the essence. Skilled legal counsel will look at your case to make sure that law enforcement acted properly from the time they arrived on-site to your questioning. If there is a possibility that your case should be dismissed based upon legal mishandling, well-versed legal counsel will find it. William Housley is highly regarded in the Tupelo, Mississippi area and is here to provide you with a quality defense. Contact him today.