Involved in a Domestic Violence Dispute in Montana?
Qualified Montana criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge, skill and experience that will provide you with the best possible defense for your case
Facing Domestic Violence Charges
The immediate need of a defense attorney after being arrested for a domestic violence dispute is no simple matter. If you are being charged with domestic violence, this complicated matter can certainly make you feel as if there are no solutions to your situation. In many cases, a domestic violence defendant can face being ordered to leave his or her home; being prohibited to visit or even see his or her children; and can even demand imprisonment. While these are some of the most severe results of being charged with domestic violence, they are nonetheless common results. In many cases, defendants will also run the risk of losing his or her employment. This is particularly true if the defendant works in the justice field or public sector.
If you have been accused and charged with domestic violence, an expert attorney can champion for your rights. A criminal defense attorney will see that the charges you are facing fit your crime. Further, he or she will fight to protect your rights and see these rights are upheld and protected.
The United States Department of Justice website defines domestic violence as being a recurring behavior which is abusive in a relationship. This abusive behavior is typically caused by one individual on to the other in order to be controlling or gain power over him or her. Domestic violence can take many forms. It can be sexual abuse, or even economic abuse. Domestic violence can also be psychological abuse. Threatening, which negatively influences a victim, can also be considered domestic violence. The most commonly known form of domestic violence is physical, however, in which on partner physically hurts or injures the other. In domestic violence disputes, abusive patterns of behavior can include, but are not limited to:
- A recurring humiliation of an individual;
- Purposefully terrorizing or coercing the other individual; and/or
- Repeatedly intimidating and manipulating a victim.
While domestic violence is most commonly initiated between intimate partners, domestic violence can also be a charge concerning anyone who lives under the same household. For example, domestic violence can happen between parents and children, grandparents, or any other individual who lives in the same property. No relation to the individual is necessary.
What Are The Montana Penalties If You Are Charged?
Unlike a few other states, Montana has a specific group of people unto which “domestic abuse” can occur, rather than a more lenient system that would qualify, for instance, long-term platonic roommates. Montana recognizes:
- For family members: Mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, and other past or present family members of a household.
- For romantic or otherwise committed partners: Spouses, former spouses, people who have a child in common, and people who have been or are currently in a dating or ongoing intimate relationship.
If you are officially determined guilty for domestic violence charges, Montana penalties range from misdemeanor to felony classification, depending on a number of factors, including the frequency/repetition of abuse, as well as what the penalty for the regular crime, not having been committed against a family or household member, that fall outside the DV definition, such as rape, murder, and other specific offenses. In that case, you may receive that crime’s general state penalty, as well as additional penalties because of the domestic abuse aspect.
Additionally, Montana automatically raises the penalty as the defendant’s record of domestic abuse increases:
- First offense. Fine of between $100 and $1,000, and/or imprisonment for between 24 hours and one year. The offender may also be ordered into misdemeanor probation.
- Second offense. Fine of between $300 and $1,000, and/or imprisonment for between 72 hours and one year. The offender may also be ordered into misdemeanor probation.
- Third (or subsequent) offense. Fine of between $500 and $50,000, and/or imprisonment for between 30 days and five years.
If the offense was committed within the vision or hearing of a minor, the judge shall consider the minor’s presence as a factor at the time of sentencing.
Unlike most other states, Montana does not organize misdemeanors into separate categories, thus making it difficult to say exactly the domestic violence crimes that may appear, or their penalties. Rather, it uses a “by crime” protocol, which means that the misdemeanor will always be evaluated by a law enforcement agent to determine the severity of the crime, and its subsequent jail time (if any) and/or fine.
Common misdemeanors in Montana, however, represent a substantial number of the common low-level domestic violence crimes: In addition to “partner or family member assault” itself, other misdemeanors might be simple assault; stalking; and violation of a protective order.
Like misdemeanors, Montana does not have its felonies assigned to a certain class; the crime committed is determined, and will be assigned a class (severeness) based on the act and the discretion of the jury or judge. In Montana, possible felony charges and penalties include:
- Class 1 Felony. This carries punishment that include death, or imprisonment for life and a fine of up to $100,000.
- Class 2 Felony. Carries punishment that include imprisonment for life or a minimum of 20 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
- Class 3 Felony. Carries punishment that include imprisonment for five to 20 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
- Class 4 Felony. Carries punishment that include imprisonment for two to 10 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
- Class 5 Felony. The jury or court may choose to sentence the offender for one to 10 years or jail for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500, either or both.
- Class 6 Felony. The jury or court may choose to sentence the offender for either one to five years or jail for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500 or both.
Domestic violence crimes in this class are those on the most devastating end of criminal activity, such as murder, rape, and kidnapping.
Aside from the particular crime committed, the primary factors influencing which type of penalty is likely to be imposed are the following: the victim’s relationship to you; for instance, domestic violence against one of your parents, versus domestic violence against a spouse or live-in partner; the nature of the purposeful terrorizing and/or coercing of the other individual; and/or evidence of having repeatedly intimidated or manipulated a victim, and to what extent this effected the victim’s daily life and wellbeing.
Facing Wrongful Domestic Violence Accusations
Unfortunately, there are countless situations in which one individual wrongfully accuses his or her partner of committing domestic violence. Aggrieved partners are able to make a simple accusation that will spark an investigation, which can ultimately change a person’s life. When feeling angry or betrayed, a resentful partner can make a wrongful accusation in an attempt to get revenge. Messy divorces or separations can often be a difficult situation to experience and if children are involved, it is common to see false accusations arise due to the attempt to gain sole custody of the children. These types of cases can quickly become very stressful and traumatic. A dangerous battle of hearsay can take a complete hold on your entire life. False accusations can be common and if this is your case, contacting an expert attorney can help overturn your case.
The Repercussions of Being Accused of Domestic Violence
Being charged with domestic violence can be one of the most devastating crimes you can be charged with. If you have been accused and charged with domestic violence, it is important that you know that this type of case can affect your employment. It can also affect any future employments and/or promotions. Hiring a qualified attorney who has experience in the matter can greatly benefit your case. An expert attorney will be able to determine if the charges filed against you fit your actions. He or she will also be able to see that your civil rights are being upheld.
If you have been blamed and charged with domestic violence, the implications of such can take an immediate effect on your life. Before you are legally convicted, you can be forced to move out of your home and you can also be prohibited to have contact with your children, if they are underage. Many domestic violence convictions can indicate a denial or severe visiting limitations with your children. In the worst cases, a conviction can implicate a complete loss your child’s custody. In addition to losing parental rights, a domestic violence defendant can be imprisoned, pay fines or post bail, be ordered to enroll in anger management programs, counseling, or even be placed in probation.
Defend Your Case
Being charged with domestic violence can have serious and immediate consequences. Unbeknown to many defendants, investigations can begin immediately without the need of much evidence. It is important that you begin working on your defense case sooner, rather than later. Don’t wait until it becomes harder to prove your case, begin defending your case immediately. Hiring an expert criminal defense attorney can be beneficial to your case. False accusations can happen to anyone, and even if that is not your case, you still have rights that can and should be protected. A qualified attorney should be knowledgeable and experienced in investigating the complications and difficulties of a domestic violence case. A professional attorney will also be sympathetic to the emotional nature of the case. A qualified criminal defense attorney will have the knowledge, skill and experience that will provide you with the best possible defense to your case.