Domestic violence is a serious problem in Mississippi. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 39.7% of women in the state are subjected to violence or stalking from an intimate partner sometime during their lives. Nationwide, a third of women and a quarter of men have been subjected to some form of domestic violence. In 2018, 20% of all violent crime reported nationwide was related to domestic violence, according to the NCADV.
Mississippi domestic violence charges
Mississippi law takes domestic violence seriously. Unlike some states, Mississippi has specific criminal charges for some people who have been accused of domestic violence. To be convicted of “simple” domestic violence under Mississippi law, the offense must have been committed against:
- A current or former spouse of the defendant
- A child of a current or former spouse
- A current or former romantic partner of the defendant
- A parent, grandparent, child or other relative of the defendant
The offense further must involve knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, negligently causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon, or threatening another with imminent serious bodily harm.
This basic form of domestic violence is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and a jail sentence of up to six months. Penalties get higher for those with prior convictions and other aggravating factors. Some of these aggravated offenses can carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
While most of criminal law is oriented around holding defendants accountable after the offense has occurred, some aspects of Mississippi’s domestic violence law take a more proactive approach. The idea behind this policy is to stop patterns of violence before they become worse.
With that in mind, Mississippi law allows for victims of domestic violence to request a protective order from a court. If granted, the court can order the accused person to stay away from the alleged victim and avoid all contact with them. Violating a protective order carries further criminal penalties.
A protective order can go into effect immediately, but the accused person does have the right to a hearing to defend against the accusation.
Defending against domestic violence charges
By enacting tough domestic violence laws, Mississippi lawmakers and law enforcement officers hope to reduce some of the scary statistics we saw at the top of this blog post.
Still, one of the cornerstones of our criminal justice system is the principle that everyone must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Those who are accused of domestic violence have the right to a defense. Defending against these charges can feel like an uphill battle. It’s important for the accused to seek out professional guidance when facing these charges.