Des Moines Domestic Violence Lawyers
Domestic violence is an awful crime. It’s so awful, with what it does to the victim and the family, that no one should have to live their life with false accusations hanging over their head. It’s easy for an accused person to be prejudged by their community and perhaps their family. The one person who has to believe in them is their attorney. At Lombardi & Miler Law Firm, accused persons get to talk directly with our Des Moines domestic violence lawyers who believes in them, and will aggressively fight for their right to due process.
What Is Domestic Assault?
The crimes that are considered domestic violence are crimes regardless of who the alleged perpetrator is. Assault is always a crime. It can elevate to domestic violence—meaning potentially higher penalties in the event of conviction—depending on the relationship between the defendant and the victim.
When the defendant is accused of assault against spouse or ex-spouse, they face domestic charges. The same thing can happen if the defendant and victim have an intimate relationship, be it past or present. The definition of domestic violence is broad enough to cover relatives, and in fact, can apply when the victim is anyone living under the same roof as the defendant.
Assault and sex crimes are the most common allegations to be classified as domestic violence. Something defendants should understand is that assault does not refer to actually hitting the victim. Assault only requires the victim feeling reasonable fear that physical injury is imminent.
This means, depending on the circumstances, that a shouting match between defendant and victim could result in criminal charges. If the shouting does in fact lead to violence, the defendant may also be charged with battery. The terms assault and battery are often used together in criminal law, and they are indeed often linked together when prosecutors file charges. But defendants must be aware that even if their actions were perceived as a clear and present danger, they can still face assault charges.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in Iowa
Domestic violence will generally be linked to other crimes, so the potential sentence can vary in each individual case. But, strictly speaking, if there is no other applicable law, a 1st offense for domestic assault will be a simple misdemeanor. That can still mean a 30 days in jail, plus a fine of up to $855 (+$128.25 surcharge).
If the victim suffers an injury—including mental trauma—because of the alleged incident, a defendant can see the charge become a serious misdemeanor, where the jail time for conviction can run as long as a year. The fine can reach $2,560 (+$384 surcharge).
Furthermore, if the court deems that any assault was done with the intention of doing serious harm to the victim, or if the defendant was armed, the jail sentence can be increased to two years, and the fine to $8,540 (+$1,281 surcharge).
All of these are simply for 1st offenses. On second offenses, the charge must gradually escalate. What might have been a simple misdemeanor now becomes a serious misdemeanor.
If a defendant is faced with their third offense, they will be charged with a Class D felony and face up to five years in prison.
A defendant’s previous record will go a long way in determining how prosecutors will handle charges and courts will deal with sentencing. The best way to combat all of this is to have our Des Moines domestic violence attorneys that will fight for acquittal right from the outset.
Defense Strategies in Domestic Assault Cases
When the charge is simple assault—meaning no actual physical violence took place, it has to be investigated as to whether an alternative explanation is available. Perhaps the defendant wasn’t aware of how their actions were coming across. It’s possible that any threatening body movements were a defendant thinking about protecting themselves. Character witnesses can also be important in these cases. A Des Moines domestic violence lawyer might summon those close to the defendant, from family members, to colleagues, to testify to their character.
When the defense involves the possibility of misunderstanding or one person’s word against another, every piece of evidence may be able to help. It’s the prosecution’s job to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That simple burden of proof lying with the prosecutor can be consequential in how a case turns out.
When a defendant’s freedom, record and reputation are on the line, they need to know that their attorneys are going to listen to their side of the story, investigate diligently, and advocate vigorously. That’s what we do at Lombardi & Miler Law Firm. We believe in basic principles like the presumption of innocence, and we bring that belief into our daily advocacy for defendants.
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“He will go to the ends of the earth for you and I can attest even after your case is closed, he will not just leave.” - Devin G.