Tennessee Domestic Violence Laws

If you are convicted of committing assault in Tennessee, you could go to jail or prison, but the consequences of a conviction increase if the person you are accused of assaulting is your spouse or a relative. The reason is that Tennessee categorizes assault as domestic assault if the victim is someone who is a domestic partner or family member. Assault under state law is defined as intentionally or recklessly causing injury to another person. It can also include conduct that creates a reasonable fear of physical harm or injury on the part of the victim even if there is no actual physical contact. Even offensive or provocative contact with a victim, such as bumping into the person, can be charged as an assault.

When the person making the accusation that you committed an assault is among the following list, you could be charged with committing a domestic violence crime:

  • Spouses: If the victim is your current or former spouse, additional penalties could be imposed.
  • Cohabitants: You might not be married to the person, but someone with whom you are living could elevate the crime to domestic violence.
  • Dating Partners: One date could be sufficient to put the victim into the category of a domestic abuse victim under state law in Tennessee.
  • Relatives: Domestic violence victims can be anyone to whom you are related by blood or marriage. Relatives from a former marriage may also qualify as victims under the state domestic violence statute.
  • Children: Adult or minor children, either your own or those of any of the other categories possible domestic violence victims, can result in a charge being brought.

Domestic violence charges can be filed by prosecutors and law enforcement for other types of criminal conduct in addition to the previously mentioned crime of assault. If the victim is one of the classifications of individuals listed in the state’s domestic violence statute, the following crimes may be charged as domestic violence offenses:

  • Rape
  • Child abuse
  • Child neglect or endangerment
  • Kidnapping
  • False imprisonment

Designating a crime as a domestic violence offense means that a conviction will cause you to lose your right to own or possess firearms. If you are caught in possession of a firearm after you have been convicted of a domestic violence offense, you could be charged with a misdemeanor. Multiple offenses, meaning that you were caught on different occasions in possession of a gun, can be charged as separate offenses with each one carrying its own penalties.

Another consequence of a domestic violence charge is the authority given to judges to issue a protection order to protect the victim. If you violate the order, you can be arrested and help for 12-hours before being allowed to post bond. Each violation of a protection order is a separate misdemeanor charge.

The rules for arresting a person suspected of committing a domestic violence offense are different than those in place for other types of criminal charges. A police office usually cannot arrest you for committing a misdemeanor unless the officer either sees you committing it or has a warrant for your arrest. Tennessee law allows police officers to arrest you for a misdemeanor domestic violence offense as long as the officer has probable cause to believe you committed it.

If you are facing a domestic violence charge in Tennessee, it is important for you to be represented by a skilled criminal defense attorney who knows the law and is experienced representing individuals charged under its unique rules. At the law offices of Dotson & Taylor, our knowledge of the domestic violence laws and skills in the courtroom are unsurpassed. Call us today at 615-890-1982 or contact us through our website to schedule a free initial consultation.

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