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Defending a charge of domestic violence in Mississippi

There are several acts that constitute domestic violence in Mississippi including emotional, psychological, sexual and physical abuse. The elements of one form of domestic violence - physical abuse - are similar to those of assault, as discussed in a previous blog post. The difference between assault and domestic violence is the alleged victim. If a simple assault is committed against a spouse, family member or someone who had a dating relationship with the accused, it generally constitutes domestic violence.

As with simple assault, penalties for simple domestic violence in Mississippi may include up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. Aggravated domestic violence is simply aggravated assault committed against a current or former spouse, a person who lived with the defendant, family members, someone similarly situated to the defendant or someone with whom the defendant had a dating relationship. In Mississippi, conviction of aggravated domestic violence may result in imprisonment of two to 20 years.

Once someone is arrested for domestic violence, the charges typically cannot be dropped because they are issued not by the victim, but rather by the state. However, there are several defenses to domestic violence, including false allegation and self-defense. Sometimes, false charges may be brought, especially in divorce and child custody cases. In those cases, there are often inconsistencies with the accuser's allegations and police records or witness accounts. There are also situations in which the defendant reasonably believed they were facing an imminent threat and responded proportionately; in those cases, the defendant acted in self-defense.

Allegations of domestic assault are often damaging, not only in terms of potential long term legal consequences but also in terms of the accused's reputation. A defendant cannot be convicted if the prosecution cannot meet its burden of proof or if a successful defense to the charge is asserted. Successfully defending a charge of domestic violence requires an understanding of the underlying charge, available defenses and implementation of a staunch criminal defense.

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