What is Domestic Violence 3rd Degree?

By Danielle Smyth - Updated March 06, 2018
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Like any criminal act, domestic violence is pursued in court and prosecuted at varying levels depending upon the offense committed. The classification of domestic violence depends upon the circumstances surrounding the incident and the injuries involved.

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Domestic violence in the 3rd degree refers to any kind of domestic assault, even if no injury or a minor injury results.

What is Domestic Violence 3rd Degree?

Domestic violence in the 3rd degree refers to the lowest level of domestic violence and involves any assault or physical injury in a domestic situation. These injuries can be a result of the defendant hitting, punching, kicking, pushing, biting or throwing things at the victim.

How Does 3rd Degree Domestic Violence Compare to Other Degrees?

Domestic violence in the 3rd degree is considered a lower-level offense than 2nd degree or 1st degree domestic violence charges. However, depending on the defendant’s criminal history and record of domestic assault incidents, 3rd degree domestic violence allegations may be prosecuted at a felony level like 2nd or 1st degree offenses are.

Generally, 2nd or 1st degree domestic violence crimes involve injuries that are more severe. A 2nd degree assault is typically classified as one causing serious physical injury. A 1st degree domestic assault is classified as one in which the victim is seriously injured with a weapon.

Is Domestic Violence 3rd Degree a Felony?

Domestic violence in the 3rd degree is typically considered a misdemeanor. However, charges may be upgraded to felony charges if the defendant is a previous offender. This is true in states like Arkansas, for instance, in an effort to institute a no-tolerance policy for domestic violence.

What is the Average Jail Sentence for Domestic Violence?

Incarceration sentences for perpetrators of domestic violence can range from as short as 30 days to as long as multiple years. Sentencing depends on the defendant’s criminal record, his history of domestic violence and the severity of the crime.

Sentencing time varies by state, as do any monetary penalties. In South Carolina, for instance, a defendant convicted of 3rd degree domestic violence may face up to 90 days in jail and/or fines between $1,000 and $2,500. In New York, this sort of domestic violence is treated as a misdemeanor (sometimes called a class A misdemeanor), which is punishable by up to a year in prison or three years of probation. On top of jail time, a misdemeanor can lead to a fine of $1,000, or twice the defendant’s gain from the crime, if any.

Can You Drop the Charges on Domestic Violence?

Getting domestic violence charges dropped is always up to the discretion of the state. It is certainly possible that the prosecutor will agree to drop the charges. In many cases, regardless of the state in which you reside or the violent act occurred, however, the prosecutor will not agree to drop domestic violence charges just because a victim requests she does. In some instances, a prosecutor may decide to offer a plea bargain or to reduce the charges that were filed against a defendant. In very rare cases, the prosecutor may choose to drop a case altogether.

About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. In addition to being the content writer and social media manager for Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, she has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.

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