A Guide to Assault Statutes in Missouri

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, in 2017 there were 3,762 incidents of domestic violence in Greene County, Missouri alone—an average of over 10 per day. Assaults are on the rise nearly every year and are becoming both more frequently and more aggressively prosecuted each year. In response to this rising tide of assaultive behavior, the Missouri Legislature changed and expanded the statutes covering assaults during their recent re-write of the Missouri Revised Statutes in 2017.

The subject of assaults can best be broken down in two separate ways: 1) Felony vs. Misdemeanor and 2) Domestic vs. Common.

The difference between felony and misdemeanor assaults in Missouri is often found in the perpetrator’s mental intent (“knowingly” vs. “recklessly”, for example), the actual assaultive behavior by the perpetrator (ex: choking) or the result of the assault (ex: serious physical injury). How an alleged assault should be charged are often unclear and are therefore typically determined in an unfavorable way to the accused by the prosecuting attorney. The distinctions between felonies and misdemeanors can often turn on seemingly small facts that are subject to interpretation. However, the interpretation of facts by prosecutors can literally mean the difference in many years of potential incarceration. One of the most powerful actions a defense attorney can take in cases such as this is to challenge these unfavorable interpretations by the prosecutor.

Fortunately, the difference between “domestic” and “common” assaults is much clearer. In Missouri, an assault is defined as a domestic assault if the alleged victim is “a household or family member as the term “family” or “household member” is defined in section 455.010, including any child who is a member of the household or family.” This definition also includes someone who has/had a romantic or sexual relationship with the accused.

Being charged with an assault can cause many problems for the accused including job, housing and educational issues. However, many times these types of accusations can often be proven untrue resulting in complete dismissal of the charges. We have successfully defended those accused of assaults in hundreds of cases and would gladly welcome to opportunity to assist you if you or a loved one also face an assault charge.

Call us today at 417-869-4680 to learn more and schedule your free consultation.