Domestic violence has been a hot-button issue in Nashville for the past several years, and as a result, the Davidson County General Sessions Court created a docket that contains nothing but domestic violence charges. That means that any person that faces that charge will be routed to one courtroom. There are consequences to being charged with domestic assault, as compared to just plain ol’ simple assault.
I know I’m taking y’all back to basics here, but assault, as defined in Tennessee Code Annotated 39-13-101 means:
(1) Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;
(2) Intentionally or knowingly causes another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury; or
(3) Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another and a reasonable person would regard the contact as extremely offensive or provocative.
Domestic assault charges are different. First, in Tennessee, for an assault to be classified as “domestic,” the victim must be one of the following:
(1) Adults or minors who are current or former spouses;
(2) Adults or minors who live together or who have lived together;
(3) 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;
(4) Adults or minors related by blood or adoption;
(5) Adults or minors who are related or were formerly related by marriage; or
(6) Adult or minor children of a person in a relationship that is described in subdivisions (a)(1)-(5).
(Tenn. Code Ann. 39-13-111).
The punishments are different, too. An assault is an A misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of 11 months and 29 days. Domestic assault provides for enhanced punishment on the second offense (minimum $350 and no less than 30 days in jail). On the third offense, the fine jumps to $1,100 and a minimum of 90 days in jail. (Tenn. Code Ann. 39-13-111(c). And, in Davidson County, you’ll notice the difference between assault and domestic assault because there is a 12 hour-hold in jail for “cooling-off,” unless waived by the judge.
But for a lot of sportsmen and hunters, especially in a Second Amendment-loving state like Tennessee, here’s the major consequence:
(6) A person convicted of a violation of this section shall be required to terminate, upon conviction, possession of all firearms that the person possesses as required by § 36-3-625.
(Tenn. Code Ann. 39-13-111).
As you can tell, the punishments for domestic assault are more severe than simple assault, and it is important to recognize all the potential consequences. If someone is charged with domestic assault, there are a myriad of options for resolution of the case. Often, domestic assaults are “he said, she said,” incidents. Witness statements, photographs of physical evidence, and a timeline of events are crucial to presenting a defense. They can also be helpful in resolving a case, because if someone got Mike Tyson’ed by the other person, no argument may be truly convincing in front of a judge. A charge of domestic assault may also mean that Order of Protections are filed and life becomes more constrained.
For some people, the best advice I can give is: avoid the dramatic relationship, order yourself some take-out, and turn on Netflix. (I’m watching Dexter right now, and the Fifth Season has turned out to be really solid.) But, for anyone else that gets caught up in this type of charge, it’s really important to hire an attorney, because the punishment for a domestic assault is definitely not as simple as a simple assault.
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