Know the factors that can change a misdemeanor to a felony in Domestic Assault and Battery.



Assault and battery are two separate crimes, although they are very similar and easily confused. Assault refers to a threat of violence, as opposed to battery which refers to unlawful physical contact with the intent to cause injury, harm, or pain. Assault AND battery refers to both the threat of violence and the accompanying physical contact.  This is actually a more complex question than one would originally have anticipated. Simply explained, domestic assault and battery is the act as regular assault and battery with one big addition. 


The addition of the word “domestic” to assault and battery refers to Oklahoma Legislature’s intent to separate and differentiate between violence between strangers and intimate partner violence. Over the years, the word “domestic” has been expanded to mean people associated by blood, by marriage, by living situation, or by romantic/dating relationships. This differentiation is based on an expanding concern over the prevalence of violence occurring between intimate partners and families. 


The Oklahoma Legislature defines domestic abuse as, “‘Domestic abuse’ means any act of physical harm, or the threat of imminent physical harm which is committed by an adult, emancipated minor, or minor child thirteen (13) years of age or older against another adult, emancipated minor or minor child who are family or household members or who are or were in a dating relationship;” Title 22 O.S. § 60.1.


The “elements” that the State of Oklahoma must prove to obtain a conviction for Domestic Assault and Battery are:


         “No person may be convicted of domestic abuse unless the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. 


         These elements are:


                  First, willful;

                  Second, unlawful;

                  Third, attempting or offering to use force or violence; and

                  Fourth, the use of force or violence;

                  Fifth, was against the person of a _____________. * [Specify Applicable Relationship in 21 O.S. Supp. 2000, §     644(C)].


** The relationships listed in 21 O.S. 2011, § 644(C) includes "a current or former spouse, a present spouse of a former spouse, a former spouse of a present spouse, parents, a foster parent, a child, a person otherwise related by blood or marriage, a person with whom the defendant is or was in a dating relationship as defined by section       60.1 of Title 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes, an individual with whom the defendant has had a child, a person who formerly lived in the same household as the defendant, or a person living in the same household as the defendant."


Title 22 O.S. §60.1 defines “dating relationship as, “‘Dating relationship’ means a courtship or engagement relationship. For purposes of this act, a casual acquaintance or ordinary fraternization between persons in a business or social context shall not constitute a dating relationship...” 


So, in its simplest form, domestic assault and battery is the willful and unlawful attempt or offering of violence and the accompanying use of violence against a person with whom the defendant has significant/substantial relationship. 


Domestic assault and battery can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on specific allegations or conditions, as alleged by the “victim(s).”  Some factors that can change a misdemeanor to a felony include, but are not limited to, the extent of the alleged victim’s injuries, if instant charge is a second offense for the defendant, is the alleged victim complaining that a weapon was involved, and or, was the alleged victim strangled. 


If you have been charged with Domestic Assault and Battery, the first thing you need to do is contact a competent attorney who will work diligently to get the results you deserve.  Call the Berlin Law Firm NOW and set up a consultation.