When Can a Crime Be Prosecuted as Domestic Violence in Kansas?
In Kansas, being accused of domestic violence can have immediate and long-lasting ramifications. When the police respond to a report of domestic violence, they are required to make an arrest if they identify probable cause—and they almost always will. Once you are arrested, the criminal justice process begins to move quickly; and, if you are convicted, you can face fines, imprisonment, and other penalties. As a result, if you are facing allegations, it is imperative that you speak with a Shawnee domestic violence lawyer right away.
But, many people find Kansas’s domestic violence laws confusing. In particular, many people struggle to understand when a crime can be prosecuted as domestic violence as opposed to an “ordinary” criminal offense. This distinction is important, as it can have a significant impact on both the procedures involved in your case and the penalties that are on the table.
Domestic Violence Involves an Offense Committed Against a Family or Household Member
In order to constitute domestic violence, a crime must be committed against a “family or household member.” Kansas’s domestic battery statute defines family and household members to include:
- Former spouses
- Parents and stepparents
- Children and stepchildren age 18 or older
- Cohabitants or former cohabitants
- Individuals with whom the alleged perpetrator has a child
- Men and women who are expecting a child together, regardless of marital status or residence
If a person falls into any of the categories above (other than being current cohabitants), then it is not necessary for that person and the alleged perpetrator to live together in order for an offense to be charged as domestic violence. For example, a spouse or former spouse can be charged with domestic violence even if the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator have established separate full-time residences.
Multiple Offenses Can Be Prosecuted as Domestic Violence When Committed Against a Family or Household Member
Under Kansas’s domestic battery statute, domestic battery is defined as either: (i) “[k]nowingly or recklessly causing bodily harm . . . against a family or household member;” or, (ii) knowingly causing physical contact with a family or household member . . . when done in a rude, insulting or angry manner.”
In most cases, domestic battery is a class B person misdemeanor carrying 48 hours to six months of jail time, a $200 to $500 fine and participation in a domestic violence offender assessment. However, domestic battery can be charged as a class A person misdemeanor if the offender has a prior conviction for domestic battery within the past five years, and it can be charged as a person felony for a third or subsequent offense within five years.
In addition to domestic battery, various other crimes can be prosecuted as domestic violence when committed against family and household members as well. These crimes include:
- Aggravated assault
- Criminal damage to property
- Disorderly conduct
- Violation of a domestic violence restraining order
These crimes can be charged at varying levels, and they can carry penalties ranging from days of jail time and hundreds of dollars in fines to years of imprisonment and hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial penalties.
Contact Merrill Law Firm for a Free and Confidential Consultation
If you are facing a domestic violence charge in Kansas, it is important that you discuss your case with an attorney immediately. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with Shawnee domestic violence lawyer Jerry Merrill, call 913-381-2085 or contact us online now.