Oklahoma is a great state in which to live, but unfortunately, there are a number of critical areas in which we rank poorly. Among those are high rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, meth abuse, and domestic violence.
Statistics about domestic violence in Oklahoma are shocking. The state ranks 17th (as of 2010) in the number of women killed by men, and in the overwhelming majority of those cases, the victim knew her killer. In 2009, more than 18,600 people sought help from one of 30 certified domestic violence programs in Oklahoma. Of these individuals and families seeking help, 72 percent were women, and 25 percent were children. Men are not immune to domestic abuse, but that year, they comprised only 3 percent of those getting assistance from Oklahoma’s domestic violence resources.
The 2012 Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board Annual Report indicates that 114 people were killed in domestic incidents in 2011, including abusers who committed suicide. Approximately one-third of these deaths were witnessed by a child. That year, the youngest victim of fatal domestic violence was only 4 months old; the oldest was an 87-year-old woman who was murdered by her son.
While anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, certain individuals are at greater risk, including women, children, and vulnerable adults, such as those who are elderly or disabled. Being involved in a custody dispute or a separation or divorce can also increase the likelihood of violence.
It seems as if no one can push our buttons quite like those closest to us. Anger, frustration, fear, and jealousy are some of the emotions that commonly drive someone to lash out. When police respond to a domestic complaint, they are often left to make decisions about an arrest based on conflicting witness statements. A person acting in self defense may be the one arrested, if he or she has the fewest visible injuries, or if the aggressor tells his or her side of the story first.
Whether you have acted rashly in a fit of rage, or whether you are wrongfully accused of assaulting a family member, intimate partner, or roommate, you need experienced legal representation. At Law Firm of Oklahoma, we have successfully defended clients just like you after a personal matter becomes a legal matter.
Often, people think of domestic violence strictly in terms of spousal abuse or child abuse, but the legal definition of domestic assault and battery encompasses so much more.
In 21 O.S. 644, the same statute defining assault and battery, Oklahoma defines domestic abuse as “assault and battery against a current or former spouse, a present spouse of a former spouse, a former spouse of a present spouse, parents, a foster parent, a child, a person otherwise related by blood or marriage, a person with whom the defendant is or was in a dating relationship . . . , an individual with whom the defendant has had a child, a person who formerly lived in the same household as the defendant, or a person living in the same household as the defendant.” This is quite an extensive list, and some of the potential victims are not even relatives, including roommates and those who used to reside in the same household as the defendant.
In general, simple assault and battery is prosecuted as a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 90 days in prison. Domestic abuse, however, carries more serious consequences. As a first offense, it is a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000, but certain characteristics of the offense can quickly elevate it to felony status.
Felony domestic abuse includes:
While it would seem as if the majority of domestic violence cases would be misdemeanor assaults resulting from a minor altercation, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that the felony domestic abuse is far more frequent. In 2003, more than 18,000 of the 23,733 reported domestic violence cases were felony offenses—nearly 76 percent.
Under the Oklahoma Victim’s Rights Act and the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act, victims of domestic abuse, stalking, harassment, or rape may seek a Victim Protective Order (VPO), commonly called a “restraining order,” that prevents the object of the order from contacting the person who files the petition or the person on whose behalf such an order was filed. Violating a protective order carries additional criminal penalties.
Accusations of domestic abuse can destroy a family. A conviction can cause you to lose custody of your children and the criminal record can affect opportunities, rights, and privileges. To find out how we may be able help you take a proactive approach to your defense, fight against criminal charges, and restore your family, call (405) 608-4990 for a free case review.