The Costly Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge

The pandemic, which forced people to shelter at home from the coronavirus, also led to increased domestic violence. In Chattanooga, during March of 2020, calls reporting domestic violence increased by 24 percent.

But matters did settle down statewide, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) recently reported that domestic violence decreased 2.6 percent in 2020 over 2019. A total of 69,385 offenses were logged as domestic violence.

A domestic violence charge in Tennessee carries serious possible consequences ranging from jail or prison time to substantial fines. On top of that, a conviction brings with it a criminal record that will stay with you forever.

If you do face domestic violence charges in or around Chattanooga, Tennessee, or nearby in Red Bank, East Ridge, or Soddy-Daisy, contact the Law Offices of Fisher Wise. I will investigate, help you develop a solid defense, and defend your rights at all times. I will strive to get your charge reduced or dropped, and I will strongly represent you in court if matters go to trial.

Domestic Violence Under Tennessee Law

One of the most common charges for domestic violence in Tennessee is called domestic assault. Tennessee Code, Title 39, Chapter 13, Part 1, Section 39-13-111 defines domestic assault as:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person
  • Causing a person to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury, or
  • Causing physical contact that a reasonable person would find extremely provocative or offensive

To be considered domestic, the offender and victim must share one of these types of relationship:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Current or former roommates
  • Current or former dating or sexual partners
  • Persons related by blood or adoption
  • Persons currently or formerly related by marriage
  • Parent and child

A charge of aggravated assault can be levied if the victim suffers serious bodily injury, the offender uses a deadly weapon, or the victim is strangulated. A deadly weapon doesn’t have to be a knife or gun, but any kind of instrument that can seriously harm, such as a baseball bat. A person who commits domestic violence in violation of a restraining order can also be charged with aggravated assault.

Penalties Under the Law

Domestic assault can be charged as a Class A or Class B misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor is one in which the offender causes or threatens bodily injury. It is punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a $15,000 fine. A Class B misdemeanor is one involving an act that is provocative or offensive. The punishment is up to six months in jail and a fine of $500.

Aggravated assault is a felony. A Class C felony is for intentional acts of aggravated assault, with the punishment ranging from 3 to 15 years in prison, along with a $10,000 fine. A Class D felony is for reckless aggravated assault. It carries a punishment of 2 to 12 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The judge can also order the offender to pay restitution for the victim’s medical expenses and any other expenses or losses.

Harassment and stalking are also considered domestic violence. Harassment is communication with another in a harmful, threatening, or offensive manner. It can be charged as either a Class A misdemeanor or Class E felony. Stalking is continually harassing a person that causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, or molested. It can be charged in various ways, ranging from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C felony.

Possible Defenses

Your first defense is to cast doubt on the report by the investigating and arresting police. You can challenge their version of the events. After all, the police probably arrived at the scene after the violence had ended, and they may have listened only to the victim’s side of the story. You can try to show that circumstances were not serious enough to warrant a search of the premises without a warrant.

You and your attorney can also argue that the victim is making things up in a revenge plot. You can argue that it was an accident or that you were defending yourself. Another defense is that the victim actually provoked the incident through his or her own anger or violence.

The bottom line is that the prosecution has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and that is a high bar to hurdle. You and your attorney can cast doubt on everything the prosecution brings forth.

How the Law Offices of Fisher Wise Can Help

I am an experienced trial attorney who has represented clients in charges ranging from shoplifting to murder. My first goal is to attempt to get the charges reduced or dismissed so you don’t even have to go to trial. If trial looms, I will aggressively defend your rights and develop a strategy for the best possible outcome.

If you face a domestic violence charge in Chattanooga or the surrounding counties of Marion, Rhea, or Sequatchie, contact me immediately at the Law Offices of Fisher Wise.


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