Here are some common terms used when dealing with domestic charges:
- Battery - Not a AA or a 9-volt; battery is any touching of another person without their consent. It may be a defense that the touching was on accident or by mistake. Idaho Courts, however, have defined battery as a general intent crime. This means that using "accident" as a defense can get tricky! The Prosecutor will only need to prove that someone intended to do the thing that touched someone else, not that the act was done with the intent to touch. For example, if someone's intent was to throw a bowl of soup at the wall, and some of that soup splashed off of the wall and hit someone else - that is a battery. In trial, the State will only need to show that the person had the general intent to throw the soup, not that they had any specific intent that the soup hit anyone.
- Assault - To scare someone - by actions or words - when it looks like you could actually follow through on what is threatened. For example, if I say I am going to shoot someone, but it is clear that I do not have a gun, that may not rise to the level of assault because I do not have the ability to immediately follow through on my threat. However, if I point a gun at someone, even if I do not say anything - that is assault. Now, assault is a specific intent crime, so the State will need to show that the word or action was done with the intent to threaten but not necessarily to scare. This makes assault more difficult to prove. For that reason, we rarely see domestic assault charges.
- Domestic Battery - Any assault or battery done to a household member.
- Household Member - A current or past spouse, someone you are living and in a relationship with, or someone you had a child with. Current custody or parental rights of the child do not matter, the State only needs to show that the charged and the victim had a child together.
- In the Presence - A domestic charge is in the presence of a child if it happened somewhere that a child "could have" seen or heard the battery or assault. The child does not actually need to see or hear anything.
- Attempted Strangulation - Any attempt to choke or strangle a household member or someone you are or were in a relationship with. This is another general intent crime and does not require that there be any injury as evidence of the strangulation. Accordingly, we see this charged quite often, as it does not require much for the State to allege.
Here are the common domestic charges and their maximum penalties:
- Misdemeanor Domestic Battery/Assault - Any assault or battery against a household member. A first conviction under this charge is punishable by up to six months in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. A second conviction within ten years is punishable by up to one year in the county jail and a $2,000 fine. A third conviction within fifteen years becomes a felony punishable by up to five years of prison and a $5,000 fine.
- Misdemeanor Domestic Battery/Assault in the Presence of a Child - Any assault or battery against a household member that a child "could have" seen or heard. The "Presence of a Child" is a sentencing enhancement that works to double the possible maximum sentence. That means that a first charge of misdemeanor domestic battery in the presence of a child has a maximum sentence of one year in the county jail and a $2,000 fine.
- Felony Domestic Battery - A battery against a household member that left a traumatic injury. This is a felony punishable by up to ten years of prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Felony Domestic Battery in the Presence of a Child - A battery against a household member that left a traumatic injury that a child "could have" seen or heard. Again, the "Presence of a Child" sentencing enhancement doubles the possible penalty making this punishable by up to twenty years of prison and a $20,000 fine.
- Felony Attempted Strangulation - Any attempt to choke or strangle a household member or someone you are or were in a relationship with. This charge is punishable by up to fifteen years of prison and a $50,000 fine.