Crimes involving physical injury, insulting physical contact, or fear of harm committed against a family or household member or someone with whom the offender is or was involved in a dating relationship are considered domestic violence offenses. In Kansas, domestic violence crimes can include battery, assault, rape, stalking, and protection order violations. This article will discuss Kansas' criminal penalties for domestic violence crimes.
Kansas law defines what constitutes domestic violence—what acts and by whom. A domestic abuse offense need not be labeled as such. Rather, the prosecutor looks at the factors and circumstances involved in the crime when determining whether to charge out the crime as a domestic violence offense.
Domestic violence involves a defendant's act or threat of violence against a victim who is a family or household member or current or former dating partner. These acts could involve hitting, kicking, hair pulling, threats of such acts, or other violence. The definition of domestic violence also includes nonviolent crimes directed at these same individuals, such as damaging their property (say slashing someone's tires) or harassing them. The key being that the crime or threat is directed at someone who shares one of the following relationships with the offender:
A dating relationship refers to a social relationship of a romantic nature, and
Family and household members are individuals who share one of the following relationships:
The most common domestic violence offense is domestic battery. Domestic battery involves an offender knowingly or recklessly causing bodily harm to a family or household member or current or former dating partner. It can also involve physical contact done in a rude, insulting, or angry matter.
A more severe form of battery is aggravated domestic battery. This occurs when a defendant knowingly impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood by blocking the victim's nose or mouth.
Domestic battery carries both misdemeanor and felony penalties, depending on the nature and severity of the offense and the defendant's previous domestic-related convictions. The judge can also order a defendant to pay restitution to the victim for any expenses resulting from the domestic violence crime, such as hospital bills, counseling, and repair or replacement of damaged property.
Domestic battery starts as a class B person misdemeanor conviction. An offender faces 48 hours to six months in jail, plus a $200 to $500 fine. A second conviction in five years carries a class A person misdemeanor penalty, punishable by 90 days to one year in jail and a $500 to $1,000 fine. A mandatory five-day sentence must be served by this repeat offender.
An offender on their third or subsequent domestic battery conviction within five years is guilty of a person felony and faces a mandatory 90 days and up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $7,500.
The law makes aggravated domestic battery a severity level 7, person felony, which carries penalties of up to 13 months in prison and a $100,000 fine.
(Kan. Stat. §§ 21-5111, -5414, -6611, -6804 (2021).)
Domestic violence crimes involve more than battery crimes. Related offenses include stalking, assault, and violating a protection from abuse order.
Stalking. An offender who recklessly engages in conduct causing a specific person to fear for their or their family's safety is guilty of stalking. Such an offense constitutes a class A person misdemeanor and subjects the defendant to up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Penalties increase for repeat convictions. And when an individual is protected by a protective order, threats or other acts can result in felony penalties.
Assault. Assault occurs when an offender knowingly places a victim in fear of immediate bodily harm. A guilty party receives a class C person misdemeanor and faces up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Violating a protective order. A person who violates a protection from abuse order or restraining order commits a class A person misdemeanor. These court orders typically prohibit the abuser from contacting or harming the victim and impose other restrictions on the offender. Punishment for such a violation includes up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
(Kan. Stat. §§ 21-5412, -5427, -5924, -6602, -6611 (2021).)
In addition to imprisonment and monetary penalties, Kansas law establishes the following conditions, restrictions, and penalties for domestic violence cases. Whether an offense constitutes domestic violence depends on the factors involved and not how the crime is labeled.
When a police officer determines there is probable cause to believe a domestic violence crime has occurred, the officer must arrest the offender. The officer can make the arrest regardless of the crime's severity and even if they did not witness the unlawful conduct.
Pretrial release conditions in domestic violence cases typically include restrictions such as ordering the offender to stay away from and not contact the victim and prohibiting any use of firearms. For a person felony or misdemeanor, the no-contact condition must last for at least 72 hours, regardless of whether or not the victim wants it. Judges determine the bail amount and any conditions based on a defendant's flight risk and risk of harm to the victim and others. Other conditions can include drug and alcohol monitoring, house arrest, and mental health counseling or anger management.
Kansas prohibits offenders convicted of a misdemeanor for a domestic violence offense from possessing any firearm for at least five years after the conviction. Additionally, federal law contains a firearms restriction provision as well.
(Kan. Stat. §§ 21-6301, 22-2307, 22-2802; 18 U.S.C. §§ 921, 922 (2021).)
If you've been arrested for or charged with a domestic violence-related offense, contact a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A conviction for domestic battery can become part of your permanent criminal record and negatively affect multiple areas of your life. An experienced lawyer will discuss the unique circumstances of your case and formulate possible defenses.