The problems attendant to this area are so complex, we would need a whole book just for the subject. The phrase “domestic violence” has taken on meaning in our society far beyond that which traditionally was limited to the marital relationship, as society has begun to recognize and even embrace all kinds of intimate, monogamous (sort of), residential arrangements that include some kind of at least temporary commitment between the parties. So the criminal law followed that route, constructing a special set of rules and a special kind of battery charge just for those who, while engaged in such a “relationship”—whether or not fleeting or unpredictable—commit physical damage on each other. But what makes the area so much more complicated is the presence of several competing kinds of jurisdiction between various kinds of courts, including those with authority over divorce proceedings, various county and other courts that address the so-called “no contact” orders and other types of restraining orders, and forums with criminal jurisdiction.
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The short version is that a battery committed against one’s spouse, live-in cohabitant, or other like relation, is a class A misdemeanor. The same offense, if committed in the same way, and with the same result, would be a B misdemeanor if the victim were not such class of person. The “domestic” label also extends to persons who are divorced from each other or who have previously lived together “as if a spouse” of the accused, and to all persons who have borne a child together. And the whole thing turns into a class D felony if the defendant has previously been convicted of striking the same person. So, as we will see in the section on sentencing, striking—battering— becomes a higher degree of misdemeanor when the object of the striking is such “related” person. And while it may seem an odd result, one should simply accept that this difference has been the result of lawmakers wrestling with a huge epidemic of battered wives, girlfriends, paramours, common law wives, and unwed mothers. Men have nobody to blame but themselves for this strange result.
What is important to understand here is that, in addition to facing charges for this unconsented to and unprivileged touching, posting bond and hiring a lawyer, the defendant in such case can expect to be banned from his residence if the victim lives there too and can be guaranteed to be the target of an ironclad restraining order. And any breach of that order will be cause for revocation of bond and an extended stay in the local jail until the case is concluded.