Kansas law defines domestic violence as an act of violence or threat of violence against a family or household member or a person who is or was involved in a dating relationship with the offender. Domestic violence also includes any crime or municipal ordinance violation committed against a person or property when the act is directed at a family or household member or a person currently or formerly in a dating relationship with the offender.
Kansas law defines “family or household member” as people who are at least 18 years old and who are:
- current or former spouses
- parents or stepparents and children or stepchildren
- currently or formerly resided together
- parents of the same child, regardless of whether they have ever been married or lived together, and
- a pregnant woman and the man alleged to be the father, regardless of whether the two people have ever been married or lived together.
A domestic violence offense is any crime where the underlying facts meet the definition of domestic violence. For example, a suspect who commits the crime of assault has committed a domestic violence offense if the assault is committed against a family or household member or against a person with whom the suspect is or was in a dating relationship.
(Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-5111)
In addition to the broadly defined domestic violence offenses, Kansas law also contains a criminal statute known as "domestic battery," which is specifically tailored to violent acts committed against family or household members.
A person commits domestic battery by knowingly or recklessly causing bodily harm to a household or family member. Domestic battery also occurs where a person intentionally makes physical contact with a household or family member in an insulting, rude, or angry way. Although Kansas’ definition of domestic violence includes violent acts among people who are or were in a dating relationship, its domestic battery definition applies only to people who are family or household members.
Domestic Battery Penalties
Domestic battery is a Class B misdemeanor that carries a sentence of at least 48 hours and up to six months in jail; and a fine of $200 to $500. The court can also require assessment conducted by a certified batterer intervention program, and participation in the program's recommendations.
If the defendant has a prior conviction for domestic battery within five years of the new conviction, the new domestic battery is punished as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum of 90 days to one year in jail; and a fine of $500 to $1,000. Probation is possible with certain conditions, but only when the defendant participates in batterer assessment and recommendations, as explained above.
Third or subsequent domestic battery convictions within a five-year period are categorized as "person felonies," carrying a minimum of 90 days and up to one year in jail; and a fine of $1,000 to $7,500. The 90-day minimum cannot be probated, suspended, or paroled (although the inmate may be allowed to serve work release), and once released, the person must complete a domestic violence counseling program. If the sentence does not require domestic violence counseling, the defendant must serve a minimum of 180 days in jail.
A defendant charged with domestic battery may be permitted to enter a diversion program. Diversion programs typically involve counseling and community service. A defendant’s successful completion of a diversion program will result in dismissal of the charges; however, an individual may enter a diversion program only twice within a five-year period, and charges resolved through the defendant’s completion of a diversion program count as convictions when determining the level of punishment to be imposed for a new domestic battery conviction.
(Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-5414)
Police Policies & Domestic Violence Investigations
Kansas law requires all law enforcement agencies within the state to adopt policies for handling domestic violence complaints, and the law specifies several policies that must be included by every law enforcement agency within the state. Among the policies that must be adopted by every agency is a requirement that an officer arrest a person suspected of committing a domestic violence offense. By the same token, department policies must contain a statement that nothing shall be interpreted so as to (1) require an arrest where the officer determines that insufficient evidence of a crime exists, nor (2) require the arrest of both people when each individual claims to be the victim. The statute lists several other statements and procedures that must appear in each department’s policies, including statements of emergency dispatcher duties and procedures for handling domestic violence calls that involve court orders.
(Kan. Stat. Ann. §22-2307)
A victim of domestic violence can file a petition in court asking that a judge issue a protective order against the perpetrator. The judge will hold a hearing where the victim (referred to as the plaintiff) must prove the allegation of abuse; the perpetrator also is allowed to present evidence. Where the plaintiff presents sufficient evidence of abuse, the judge will grant a protective order. When granting a protective order, the law authorizes judges to set a number of provisions, including ones that:
- prohibit the defendant from abusing the plaintiff or plaintiff’s children
- exclude the defendant from the home while awarding exclusive use to the plaintiff
- set temporary child support and visitation, and
- award the possession of personal property to either the plaintiff or defendant.
Included in the same statute is a general “catch-all” provision that gives a court the power to order or prohibit any other acts that the court determines are necessary to protect the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s children. If granted, a domestic violence protective order lasts for no longer than one year, although the plaintiff can seek to have an order extended for an additional year.
(Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 60-3106, 60-3107)
A person who intentionally violates a domestic violence protective order commits a Class A misdemeanor, which carries the possibility of up to one year in jail.
(Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 21-4502, 21-5924)
Consult An Attorney
If you are charged with a domestic violence offense, or if you are accused of domestic violence in a petition for a protective order, you should speak with a lawyer. A conviction for a domestic violence offense can result in fines and jail time, and the issuance of a domestic violence protective order against you can affect important rights, such as child custody and visitation. An experienced attorney will evaluate your case and advise you of available defenses. A skilled attorney will provided guidance throughout the process while protecting your rights.