If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, it’s important to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Even if you believe that you have been unfairly accused and that the case lacks evidence, you will need to be prepared to defend yourself in court. Physical evidence is not necessary for a prosecutor to charge you with domestic violence, and Arkansas has some of the most severe penalties for domestic abuse charges in the U.S. A domestic violence charge can have a long-lasting impact on your life.
How is Domestic Violence Defined in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, you may be charged with domestic violence for any of the following against a family or household member:
- Causing physical injury or serious physical injury,
- Creating an apprehension of physical injury, creating a substantial risk of physical injury, creating a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury, or impeding or preventing the respiration of a family or household member.
Even if no physical harm occurs, threatening behavior is still abusive if the act causes a fear of bodily harm to the victim. Criminal sexual conduct against a family or household member, such as rape or sexual assault, is also considered domestic violence.
What Happens if I’m Charged with a First Offense of Domestic Violence?
If it’s your first offense, and you caused physical injury, you will likely be charged with domestic battery in the third degree, [RG1] [MOU2] a class A misdemeanor. The penalty can be up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Your firearm rights may also be in jeopardy, not only in Arkansas, but across the nation.
What Happens if I’m Charged with a Second Offense of Domestic Violence?
If you have been convicted of domestic battery or Aggravated Assault on a Family or Household Member within the preceding five years, a second charge can be upgraded to a Class D felony. Whenever someone is charged with a felony, there is risk of serious prison time in addition to hefty fines. A Class D felony punishable by up to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.00. You also may face no contact orders or an Domestic Order of Protection[RG3] , the loss of child custody, and the social stigma that goes with a domestic violence conviction. You can learn more about Arkansas laws about domestic violence at https://www.womenslaw.org/laws/ar/crimes.
What Should I Do If I’m Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence?
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Arkansas, avoid showing anger. Any display of anger—such as outbursts in court, phone calls, emails, or texts—will be used against you. If your accuser has taken out a temporary restraining order against you, do not violate the order under any circumstances. During a trial, your credibility is crucial to your defense. Save all emails, voicemails, and text correspondence you may have with your accuser. Provide your attorney with a list of witnesses or persons who can credibly advocate on your behalf.
We at Dearmore Law have extensive experience in criminal defense. We assist clients in Northwest Arkansas as well as the rest of our state. Call our office today at (479) 255-2567 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.