What exactly is domestic violence? Domestic violence refers to violence between spouses, people who live together, people who share a child in common, or people either in a relationship or people who were formally in a relationship. It encompasses any type of physical violence including: pushing, shoving, hitting with an open hand, punching, kicking, striking with an object, choking, spousal rape, sexual assault or any other type of unwanted sexual contact. Outside of relationships, these types of acts would otherwise be criminalized under assault, battery and sex crimes. Whether they are taken out against a perfect stranger, or your spouse, they are illegal either way and are punishable to the full extent of the law.
Domestic violence charges can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony. How they are filed will be up to the prosecutor and will be based on the extent of the injuries, and any prior reported incidents for the accused. If the accused does have a prior criminal history and/or a history of domestic violence on record, both will have an effect on how the charges are eventually filed against the accused.
A misdemeanor conviction can result in a brief jail sentence for the accused. They can also be required to take anger management classes or participate in a domestic intervention program. They can be required to perform community service, they may be subject to various fines and/or charitable donations and they may be subject to a Stay-Away Order which prohibits them from contacting the victim.