You may have been raised to view domestic disputes as private matters, but the state of Oklahoma takes allegations of domestic assault and battery very seriously. If tempers flare and the police get involved, you need to contact a skilled attorney immediately.
What You Need to Know About Oklahoma’s Domestic Assault and Battery Law
In Oklahoma, domestic assault and battery is defined in 21 OK Stat §21-644.
Note that assault and battery refer to two different types of conduct. Assault indicates a threat of violence. Assault and battery refers to both the threat of violence and the accompanying physical contact. For example, if you were to make a fist and threatened to punch someone as you moved closer to them, that would be assault. If you carried through with your threat and actually punched them, that would be assault and battery.
Although domestic assault and battery is often thought of as relating to conflicts between people in a sexual relationship, this is not necessarily the case. The charge can arise from allegations involving:
- Your current or former spouse
- The present spouse of your former spouse
- A former spouse of your present spouse
- Someone with whom you have had a child
- Someone you are currently or were previously dating
- Your parents or foster parents
- Someone who currently lives or formerly lived in the same household
- Individuals otherwise related by blood or marriage
You Are Facing Severe Penalties
If you’ve been charged with domestic assault and battery, the alleged victim will likely receive a protective order. You will be prohibited from having any contact—whether in person, by phone, by text, or via email. If you live in the same home as the alleged victim, you will be expected to find another place to stay while the protective order is in place—even if the alleged victim doesn’t actively participate in the case against you. If you violate the terms of the protective order in any way, this can be an additional criminal charge.
For a first offender, a conviction for domestic assault and battery is typically a misdemeanor punishable by a jail term of up to a year, a fine of up to $5,000, or both a fine and imprisonment.
For a second or subsequent domestic assault and battery charge, it is considered a felony punishable by up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both a fine and imprisonment.
The “domestic” element of a domestic assault and battery charge is what leads to increased penalties. The consequences of a domestic assault and battery conviction are more severe than if you had committed the same action against a stranger. For example, a first-time misdemeanor assault and battery conviction involving no domestic relationship would lead to a maximum of 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both a fine and imprisonment.
If you carry a firearm for protection or simply enjoy hunting, you must also keep in mind that a conviction for any misdemeanor or felony crime involving domestic violence will result in you being permanently prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms.
The Victim Doesn’t Need to Testify for a Conviction
Under Oklahoma law, an alleged victim of domestic violence can’t be forced to testify in court. However, the charges will not be dropped simply because the alleged victim doesn’t want to testify. The state can use a variety of evidence for what is often called a victimless prosecution. This may include:
- Independent witnesses
- Child witnesses
- 911 calls
- Jail calls
- Physical evidence
- Video evidence
- Excited utterances
- Medical records
- Evidence of past violent behavior in domestic relationships
These Charges Won’t Disappear on Their Own
Even if you have no prior criminal record and the alleged victim doesn’t wish to press charges, it’s vital that you take a domestic assault and battery charge seriously. Request our free guide, Domestic Violence Charges in Oklahoma: What You Need to Know, for an in-depth look at what to expect after you’ve been charged with domestic violence and how to avoid common mistakes that can prevent you from building a strong defense.
Your domestic violence charge will not be magically dropped, so you need a skilled attorney who can advocate for your rights and protect you from the harsh penalties that can affect your reputation, livelihood, and freedom. As Oklahoma’s only private criminal defense attorney to focus his practice solely on defending clients accused of special victims crimes like domestic assault and battery, Lee Berlin has the expertise you need when you’re facing a charge with the potential to turn your life upside down. Contact The Berlin Law Firm today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case and learn about the benefits of our proprietary defense system.