In Oklahoma, domestic violence is referred to as domestic assault and battery under 21 OK Stat §21-644. If a child witnesses an act of domestic violence, the perpetrator can be charged with domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor. Having a child witness an act of violence is considered an aggravating factor that increases the seriousness of the crime, even if the child was only in the home within earshot and not a direct witness to the confrontation.
Why Oklahoma Takes Childhood Exposure to Domestic Violence Seriously
Therapy, counseling, and other forms of support can help children develop healthy coping mechanisms and build resilience, but studies have repeatedly shown that witnessing domestic violence can have lasting effects on a child's well-being.
Increased Risk of Mental Health Issues
Children who witness domestic violence can experience high levels of stress, fear, and trauma, which can lead to ongoing psychological difficulties. They may struggle with feelings of anxiety and depression, which can affect their ability to function in daily life and may require professional treatment to manage.
Increased Risk of Substance Abuse
Children who witness domestic violence may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with what they have experienced. Substance abuse can lead to a range of negative consequences, including addiction, physical health problems, and social and financial difficulties.
Trouble Forming Healthy Relationships
Children who grow up in violent homes may have a distorted understanding of healthy relationships and struggle to form close, supportive connections with others. As adults, they are more likely to commit acts of domestic violence or to become victims of domestic violence.
Penalties for Domestic Assault and Battery in Front of a Minor
The penalties for domestic abuse in front of a child are severe. If it's your first offense, there is a minimum sentence of six months in jail and a maximum of one year behind bars, up to $5,000 in fines, or both imprisonment and a fine. A second or subsequent conviction is a felony punishable by a minimum sentence of one year up to a maximum of five years in prison, fines of up to $7,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.
Additional consequences of a domestic assault and battery conviction include:
- Restrictions on child custody and visitation
- A loss of your right to own or use a gun
- Possible loss of employment or difficulty renewing a professional license
- Damage to your reputation and social standing
If You're Facing Domestic Violence Charges, Don't Wait to Seek Legal Help
If you've recently been charged with domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor, time is of the essence. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and develop a strong defense strategy.
To learn more, please request our free guide, Domestic Violence Charges in Oklahoma: What You Need to Know. This guide outlines the different types of domestic abuse charges in Oklahoma, what to expect after an arrest, and what steps you can take to help protect your legal rights.
Potential Defense Strategies
Every case is unique, and the specific defenses that may be available to you will depend on the circumstances of your case. However, there are some common strategies your attorney might recommend.
If you can demonstrate that you were acting in self-defense or defense of others, you may be able to avoid a conviction. This defense can be used if you were acting to protect yourself or someone else from physical harm.
Sometimes, a person may falsely accuse someone of domestic violence for personal gain or revenge. If you can demonstrate that the allegations are false, you may be able to avoid a conviction.
Lack of Evidence
The prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is insufficient evidence to support the allegations of domestic violence, you may be able to avoid a conviction.
Lack of Intent
Domestic violence charges require that you act intentionally to cause harm to the victim. If you can demonstrate that you did not intend to cause harm, you may be able to avoid a conviction.
Suspended and Deferred Sentences
It's a common misconception that "guilty" and "not guilty" are the two only possible outcomes for a domestic violence charge. If you have no prior record and demonstrate remorse, you may be able to receive a suspended or deferred sentence.
A suspended sentence is a sentence where you are found guilty, but placed on probation instead of going to jail immediately. If you comply with the terms of probation, the sentence may be reduced or even dismissed.
A deferred sentence is a sentence where the judge defers a judgment and sentencing for a specific period. During this period, you are placed on probation. If you successfully complete the probation period, the charges may be dismissed and you may avoid a conviction on your record.
As part of your probation with a suspended or deferred sentence, you will be required to complete 52 weeks of domestic violence intervention counseling (DVIS). All 52 sessions are mandatory, and you'll have to appear in court every three months to verify that you're attending sessions as ordered.
Have You Been Charged With A Domestic Assault And Battery Crime In The Tulsa, OK Area?
If you or a loved one has been charged with domestic assault & battery in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call 918.384.0850 for your initial strategy session. We are proud to serve Tulsa and all surrounding areas.