When Does a Criminal Act Become an Act of Domestic Violence?


Domestic violence is a crime that carries more social stigma than many other offenses. It can also mean more serious personal consequences, like the loss of your right to legally own a firearm. Defending yourself against criminal charges typically requires that you understand the law and the evidence that the state has against you.

There is an important distinguishing factor that must be present for a situation to constitute domestic violence and not just simple assault under Tennessee law. Domestic violence does not require that you live with someone or that the alleged offense take place at someone’s home.

Instead, it is the relationship between the alleged victim and the perpetrator that will differentiate between a standard assault defense and domestic assault.

Current and previous relationships can lead to domestic assault charges

Intimate partner violence doesn’t always end when a couple separates. In fact, sometimes partners become aggressive, controlling or violent after a breakup when they didn’t display such behavior during the relationship. Tennessee recognizes current and former relationship situations when determining if a charge of domestic violence is appropriate.

Only certain relationships can lead to domestic violence or assault charges. The alleged victim will need to have or have previously had a relationship with the other party.

For domestic violence to occur, the situation must involve people who:

  • ·Are current or former spouses
  • ·Cohabitate or have lived together in the past
  • ·Have dated or had a sexually intimate relationship
  • ·With a blood or adoptive relationship
  • ·Are related by marriage

The law also extends the definition to include the children of someone who meets those previous standards.

Don’t let unfounded allegations alter the course of your life

Some people will exaggerate a situation to make themselves seem like a victim. Others will blatantly fabricate details and circumstances as a means of controlling or punishing the other party. Many times, those accused of domestic violence sealed deep fear about what the implications of such charges might be on their career and future relationships.

The good news is that many such scenarios have little evidence and may have multiple ways for an accused party to defend themselves. The sooner you start strategizing, the sooner you can push back against domestic assault charges and move on with your life.

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