Oklahoma ranks high in the rate of domestic violence, and it has the dubious distinction of being one of the top states in the number of women killed by men. In general, we think of domestic violence as spousal abuse, intimate partner violence, or child abuse, but Oklahoma law extends the relationships which fall under the category of domestic assault and battery. Today we take a look at Oklahoma domestic violence laws, including relationships, acts of assault and battery, and penalties for varying acts of domestic abuse.
State law defines assault and battery--including domestic assault and battery--in 21 O.S. § 644. Simple assault and battery, in general, is punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail; however, if these same acts are committed against a person in a domestic relationship, the maximum penalty is one year in jail. These specified domestic relationships include the following:
- current or former spouse
- a present spouse of a former spouse
- a former spouse of a present spouse
- parents or 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
- a person living in the same household
Clearly, these relationships extend far beyond a spousal or intimate partner relationship, and include not only relatives, but ex-spouse relationships and even roommate relationships.
Acts of Domestic Violence and Associated Penalties
Oklahoma law defines assault as "any willful and unlawful attempt or offer with force or violence to do a corporal hurt to another" (21 O.S. § 641). Battery is defined as "any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another" (21 O.S. § 642).While assault and battery each have separate and distinct definitions, with assault as the attempt or threat to harm and battery as the use of physical force, they are frequently charged together. If assault and battery are committed against one of the people in the above mentioned relationship list, then the act is domestic assault and battery, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in county jail.
However, that misdemeanor status is only on the first offense, and subsequent acts of domestic violence bring heavier penalties. Additionally, there are specific acts of domestic abuse which are associated with stronger punishment:
- Second or subsequent acts of domestic violence- up to 4 years
- Domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon - up to 10 years
- Domestic assault and battery with a deadly weapon- up to life
- Second or subsequent assault and battery against a pregnant woman - minimum of 10 years
- Assault and battery against a pregnant woman resulting in miscarriage or injury to the child - minimum of 20 years
- Domestic assault and battery resulting in great bodily injury - maximum of 10 years
- Domestic assault and battery in the presence of a child - minimum of 6 months
- Second or subsequent offense of domestic assault and battery in the presence of a child - 1 to 5 years
- Domestic abuse by strangulation - 1 to 3 years
- Second or subsequent offense of domestic abuse by strangulation - 3 to 10 years
If a person is accused of domestic violence, he or she will typically be ordered to stay away from the alleged victim or victims. This is done through a court order called a Victims Protective Order, also known as a VPO and commonly called a "restraining order." If you are named in a protective order, it is imperative that you adhere to its terms, even if you believe them to be unfair and unwarranted. Instead, contact an attorney who can represent you in a criminal case and who can work to have an unfounded VPO dismissed. Call 405-778-4800 to learn more, or submit our online case review form.