Missouri Domestic Violence Laws
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed March 26, 2018
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Missouri has several laws to protect spouses, partners, children, and other family members from domestic violence. In addition, the criminal laws that apply to a person's bad behavior to a stranger also apply to that same bad behavior towards a loved one.
Overview of Domestic Violence Laws
Missouri law makes it a crime to commit "domestic assault," that is, to knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical injury to a member of your family or household. Domestic assault is divided into three different levels or degrees for penalty purposes. The first degree or highest level is for killing or causing serious physical injury to your family member. If a person tries or actually causes injury to a family member by using a deadly weapon or strangling, it's domestic assault in the second degree. Domestic assault in the third degree is when a person does any of the following:
- Tries to or recklessly does physically injury to a family member
- Negligently injures a family member with a deadly weapon
- Makes a family member afraid of immediate physical injury
- Recklessly puts a family member into a situation where there's a high risk of death or serious injury
- Knowingly offensively touches a family member
- Knowingly unreasonably isolates the family member from others
Abusers can also be charged with a myriad of other crimes for conduct done to terrorize their victims, including:
- Stalking - following or harassing another person, higher penalties for violating protection orders and prior domestic violence conviction
- False Imprisonment - restraining a person without consent to interfere with their freedom of movement
- Kidnapping - removing someone from one place without his or her consent and confining for a substantial period to inflict physical injury or terrorize the victim
- Parental kidnapping - depriving the custody right of another person by taking or hiding your child without good cause, i.e. when had no visitation scheduled
- Elder abuse - 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree depending on severity of physical injuries or actions taken to a person 60 years or older
- Rape - forcing a person, including your spouse, to have sex with you or having sex with a person who can't consent. Higher penalties for victims under 12, inflicting serious physical injury, or displaying weapons.
- Child Molestation or Sexual Abuse - forcing a person to have sexual contact with you or sexual contact with a person who can't consent. Higher penalties for younger victims.
Missouri Domestic Violence Laws in Brief
Below you will find key provisions of Missouri's domestic violence laws.
Missouri Revised Statutes Title XXX 455 (Domestic Relations)
Missouri Revised Statutes Title XXX 565.072 (Domestic Assault)
Sentences range in Missouri, but the maximum penalty for each of the following classes of felony and misdemeanor are:
The penalties for domestic assault depends on the degree. For the first degree, it's a Class A felony if the defendant inflicts serious physical injury on the victim or has been previously convicted of this crime, otherwise it's a Class B felony. The second degree is a Class C felony. Lastly, the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor, unless convicted of domestic violence 2+ times anywhere before, in which case the penalty is upgraded to a Class D felony.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Missouri Codes and Legal Research Options
- Missouri Criminal Laws
- Missouri Child Abuse Laws
- What is Domestic Violence?
- How to Stop Domestic Violence
- Filing a Domestic Violence Lawsuit
Accused of Violating Missouri Domestic Violence Laws? Contact an Attorney
Crimes involving domestic violence are rarely straightforward. There are defenses available for the various forms of domestic violence. If you're accused of domestic violence in Missouri, it's in your best interest to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney near you today.
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