Missouri charges of domestic assault are either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the underlying circumstances including the past criminal history of the accused. Generally, the act giving rise to the charge is an assault or a battery, and the charges are enhanced because of the domestic relationship. It is important to be aware that domestic violence need not involve husband and wife; cohabitation is enough to establish a domestic relationship. This means that even a fight between two unrelated and uninterested roommates can lead to domestic violence charges. A first offense is a Class A Misdemeanor carrying a maximum of one year in jail, while an offender with two or more prior domestic violence charges will face a Class E Felony, which can carry up to a four year prison sentence. Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 565.076, 558.011, 558.022 (2021).
Assault and Battery offenses can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. While most states differentiate between assault and battery, Missouri does not. In general, an assault is placing a victim in the fear of a battery, where a battery is an offensive touching, classified by degree in severity. Assault in the fourth degree is the least serious assault offense, generally being charged as a Class C Misdemeanor. However, assault in the fourth degree can be charged as a Class A Misdemeanor if the victim is part of a protected class such as the elderly, disabled, or certain public employees. An example of fourth degree assault would be slapping someone in the face, or attempting to.
Assault in the third degree is an assault causing injury which is a Class E Felony, or a Class D Felony if the victim is part of a protected class. An example of assault in the third degree would be punching someone so hard that you break their nose. Assault in the second degree typically involves the use of a weapon, and is charged as a Class D Felony, or Class B Felony if the victim is in a protected class. Lastly, assault in the first degree is an assault involving serious bodily injury and/ or the use of a deadly weapon; it is charged as a Class B Felony or a Class A Felony if a protected class of victim is involved. Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 565.002, 565.056, 565.054, 565.052, 565.050 (2021).
If you have been charged with a person crime in Missouri, it is important to invoke your 5th amendment rights to counsel and remain silent. If the charges result from an illegal stop or search, they may be subject to dismissal for violating the 4th amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. It is important to consult with an attorney before accepting a plea or admitting guilt in any way.