If you were recently charged with domestic assault, it’s important to get experienced legal representation as soon as possible. That’s because you’re facing two serious issues:

  • A Class A misdemeanor charge for domestic violence in Tennessee. This charge is punishable by up to 11 months, 29 days in jail, fines, and the loss of the right to legally possess a gun for the rest of your life.
  • An order of protection that prevents you from being around your accuser for days or weeks is often filed at the same time.

If the police officer who arrested you believes you used a deadly weapon during the incident, choked the other person, or caused them to suffer serious bodily injury, the Class A misdemeanor will turn into a Class C felony. If you’re convicted of a Class C felony, you can be fined up to $10,000 and sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

What Constitutes Domestic Assault in Tennessee?

Police may arrest and charge people with domestic violence for many different types of contact with others, including:

  • Hitting
  • Kicking
  • Spitting
  • Biting
  • Throwing objects
  • Choking
  • Burning

Police Are Ordered to Arrest the Primary Aggressor in Domestic Assault Situations

When police are called to the scene of a domestic violence call, they almost always arrest someone. The person who gets arrested is the “primary aggressor,” which is a loosely defined term that is subject to snap judgment. It’s not uncommon for police to arrest people who were defending themselves when both parties show signs of injury.

Domestic Assault Arrests Result in a Minimum 12-Hour “Cooling Off Period”

People who have been arrested for domestic violence can’t be released before spending at least 12 hours behind bars. That’s due to the state’s “cooling off period” that’s designed to reduce the risk that they will attack their accusers again.   The cooling off period is optional as written in the law and is at the discretion of the magistrate to make a determination if a cooling off period is warranted in each situation.  However the majority of magistrates treat it is as if it is mandatory even in situations where the accused is arrested days or weeks after the incident.

However, this also means that people often get locked up for 12 hours despite there being little to no evidence of domestic violence actually occurring. But as long as the responding police officers believe it happened, someone is getting arrested and going to jail, and then they must face the consequences of missing work, appointments, and other obligations.

Signs of Injury to the Neck Are Often Interpreted as Choking

When police arrive at the scene of domestic violence calls, they will look for signs of injury in accusers. If they see signs of injury to an accuser’s neck, they will likely believe that the injury was caused by choking or strangling, which elevates the domestic assault charge from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C felony.  This occurs even when the “injury” is a small scratch on the neck not requiring medical attention.

In many cases, people are arrested and charged with Class C felony domestic assault because of previous injuries or markings that aren’t indicative of injuries. Police aren’t doctors, and they can’t accurately diagnose injuries in the heat of the moment. Unfortunately, a misdiagnosis at a domestic assault scene can have severe consequences for the accused, but having an experienced law firm can help establish the facts.

How We Can Help with Your Domestic Assault Charge

At Ralls & Wooten, our Tennessee domestic assault defense lawyers can help with both of the major consequences of these charges.

First, we can help prove that you weren’t the primary aggressor or that domestic violence never occurred in the first place. Many people face arrests and even convictions for domestic assault despite never laying a hand on the other person due to circumstantial evidence, false witness testimony, and preexisting injuries.

Second, we can fight the order of protection that has been filed against you. Orders of protection can complicate life significantly, especially when you live with your accuser, have children with them, or otherwise need to see them daily or on a frequent basis. To further complicate matters, orders of protection apply even when accusers contact the accused. That means answering a phone call from your accuser could result in an order of protection violation.

We’ll Protect Your Rights Starting from the Moment You Contact Us

While we’re working on your case, we’ll advise you on the things you should and shouldn’t do to protect your rights and avoid creating further complications for yourself. People who are accused of domestic assault are under extreme scrutiny, and small missteps and mistakes can result in big headaches and legal consequences.

Don’t go it alone if you’ve been accused of domestic assault. Contact our legal team today for a free consultation.