What happens when charged with domestic battering or assault in Arkansas?

First Time Charge For Domestic Battering Or Assault In Arkansas – What Happens?

Even if you’ve never been in trouble before, a charge for domestic battering or assault on a family or household member is a serious offense. A misdemeanor conviction could land you in jail, force you to move out of your home or prevent you from contacting family members. It will also put you one step away from a felony.

It Does Not Work Like That

Many people think they can plead guilty to a misdemeanor, pay a fine and put the past behind them. That may be the case with a traffic ticket, but we talk to people all the time that think a domestic batter case will be dropped because:

  1. The victim does not want a conviction.
  2. The victim was also charged.
  3. There were no serious injuries.
  4. It was just a misunderstanding.
  5. There weren’t any witnesses.

It might not make sense to you, but there is another victim in the case. The victim that decides your fate is the State of Arkansas. The crime is against the State, the prosecutor works for the State and has the power to subpoena the alleged victim to court.

If your case moves forward, the alleged victim cannot stop your prosecution or determine your sentence. There probably an order of protection in place, so you can’t discuss things with them anyway, unless you want additional charges.

You need an experienced criminal defense attorney that knows how to work these cases.

My Case Is Different

Arkansas is in the top 20 states with the highest rate of domestic violence against women and in the top 10 in domestic violence against men. Arkansas prosecutors and judges take ALL domestic abuse cases seriously.

Do not accept a plea without consulting an attorney.

Because Arkansas has such a high rate of domestic abuse, your prosecutor has heard  “this was just a misunderstanding” or “not a big deal” hundreds, if not thousands of times.

Even if your case is unique and you are correct, you do not need to make this argument on your own. The stakes are too high.

Unemployment, Gun Rights And Other Issues

The judge might sentence you to jail, fines, probation, community service, counseling classes and/or issue an order of protection. However, the long-term problems with a misdemeanor conviction may include:

  1. Losing your job. Caretakers, teachers and many others are at risk.
  2. Losing a professional license or your eligibility to get one.
  3. If an order of protection is issued, the court will inform you that federal law prohibits possession of firearms.
  4. Many employers cannot or will not hire you.
  5. Domestic Battering third degree is a felony if you committed certain misdemeanors or felonies in the last 5 years.
  6. Domestic Battering third degree is a felony if you committed two (2) or more offenses of battery against a family or household member as defined by a law of this state or by an equivalent law of any other state or foreign jurisdiction within ten (10) years of the offense of domestic battering in the third degree.
  7. You must wait 5 years to seal a misdemeanor conviction for Domestic Battering third degree (instead of 60 days).

There is no simple domestic battering or assault case. Even misdemeanor charges can have serious long-term impact. Hire an attorney experienced in domestic violence criminal cases.

About the Author

Stewart A. Whaley


Stewart grew up in Helena, Arkansas. He graduated with Honors from the William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock and trained with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. His practice includes family law, criminal defense and prisoners’ rights. Stewart is a qualified Dependency/Neglect Attorney ad Litem, Domestic Relations Attorney ad Litem and an advisor to the Central Arkansas…

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