Domestic Abuse Involves Family or Household Members
Domestic abuse is a family and household problem that often follows a predictable pattern. Tensions build, then there is a blowup of some kind involving physical violence. Violent partners often apologize and promise that things will change. When things don’t change, partners can get locked in a cycle of escalating domestic violence.
The pattern may lead to repeated emergency calls, multiple arrests, and multiple convictions. In Oklahoma, repeated or particularly severe domestic violence allegations can result in felony domestic abuse charges.
Especially in situations where mutual hostility results in a conflicted household, partners may be inclined to accuse the other of violence to minimize their own culpability. A spouse fearful of losing the relationship or vindictive over the way a relationship ended might falsely accuse the other.
The wrongly accused spouse might accept a plea deal to deescalate the situation and move on. But repeated charges can result in a felony domestic violence charge. That is when the situation calls for the services of a Tulsa domestic violence defense attorney.
Is Domestic Violence a Felony?
For the purpose of protective orders, domestic abuse is defined in Oklahoma’s Protection from Domestic Abuse Act as an act of physical harm or the threat of immediate physical harm committed by an adult, emancipated minor, or a minor child who is 13 years or older, against another adult or minor who is a family or household member or who is or was in a dating relationship with the person harmed or threatened. Okla. Stat. tit. 22 § 60.1
However, Oklahoma’s assault and battery laws provide a more expansive definition of domestic abuse. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 644
For the purpose of criminal charges, domestic abuse can involve assault and battery against:
- a current or former spouse,
- a current spouse of a former spouse,
- a former spouse of a current spouse,
- a foster parent,
- a child,
- a person otherwise related by blood or marriage,
- a current or former dating partner (as defined in Okla. Stat. tit. 22 § 60.1),
- an individual with whom the defendant has had a child,
- a former housemate, or
- a current housemate.
Domestic abuse most often involves domestic assault and battery. First offenses are usually treated as misdemeanors, but subsequent offenses and certain circumstances make the offense a felony.
While felony domestic assault and battery may be charged in violent offenses, domestic abuse can also include child abuse, elder abuse, stalking, harassment, and violation of a protective order.
Domestic abuse can involves explicit violence or threats. On second offense, domestic abuse is a felony.
Domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon or domestic assault with a dangerous weapon are felony domestic violence offenses in Oklahoma. Domestic assault and battery with a deadly weapon is a felony with a potential life sentence.
If you wonder what makes domestic violence a felony in Oklahoma, and is domestic abuse a felony in Oklahoma, the answer could involve whether any weapons or strangulation were involved, whether there was a pattern of abuse, and to some extent the discretion of prosecutors in a particular case.
When is Domestic Abuse a Felony in Oklahoma?
The first domestic abuse offense is generally charged as a misdemeanor offense. This is punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Any subsequent convictions are treated as felonies. These are punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of $5,000. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 644
In cases of multiple arrests, the prosecution may try to prove a prior pattern of abuse. If the prosecution is successful, the crime is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Oklahoma defines domestic abuse with a prior pattern of physical abuse as any two or more incidents, including the incident that precipitated charges, occurring on different days. Proof of incidents prior to the present incident may be established by a witness’ sworn statement or other admissible direct evidence, not including a victim’s testimony. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 644.1
The intent to do bodily harm with any a sharp or dangerous weapon without justification or excuse can also make domestic abuse a felony crime. This is punishable by either up to 10 years in prison or up to a year in the county jail.
The shooting of a domestic relation is also a felony under Oklahoma law punishable by a life term in prison.
A first offense of domestic abuse against a pregnant woman knowing of the pregnancy is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year in jail. Subsequent incidents are felonies punishable by a prison term of at least 10 years.
Using strangulation against a domestic relation can be a felony crime. This is punishable by one to three years in prison, a fine of up to $3,000, or both for a first conviction. A subsequent conviction is punishable by 3 to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 644
Talk to Your Lawyer About a Suspended or Deferred Sentence
Courts can order deferred or suspended sentence in domestic assault and battery cases. A deferred sentence allows the court to delay proceedings for up to 10 years without entering a judgment of guilt, and to dismiss the case if the defendant complies with certain court conditions.
A suspended sentence allows the defendant to serve some or all of his or her sentence on probation as long as the defendant follows all the rules set forth in probation. Deferred or suspended sentences can help minimize or avoid jail time as long a defendant complies with the terms of probation.
Usually, if a protective order is not in place already, the court will issue an order requiring the accused to stay away from the victim. The court can also order remedial activities that can include anger management classes, attendance at substance abuse classes, individual therapy, or couples counseling in addition to probation and community service.
A person facing domestic abuse charges needs the advice of an attorney. Resolutions can range from identifying false charges, showing that physical conflict was defensive or persuading a court that a defendant acknowledges responsibility and will participate in efforts to prevent further abusive behavior. The knowledgeable counsel of a Tulsa defense lawyer can afford the best opportunity to successfully resolve domestic abuse charges.
Free Consultation with a Tulsa Defense Lawyer
Legal help is just a phone call away. The Tulsa criminal lawyers at Wirth Law Office can help you understand the situation and find a way to resolve the charges.
For a free consultation, call 918-879-1681. If you prefer written correspondence, you may submit a question through the form at the top right of this page.