Let a Skilled Attorney Fight for You Schedule a Free Consultation
Wooden gavel and books on wooden table
Law Office of Michael D. Litman, PLLC May 1, 2024

What Are the Different Degrees of Domestic Violence?

Being accused of domestic violence is a serious matter that can have profound implications on one's life, affecting personal relationships, employment opportunities, and overall reputation.

At the Law Office of Michael D. Litman, PLLC, we emphasize the importance of understanding the legal implications surrounding domestic violence accusations. Recognizing the degrees of alleged domestic assault can significantly impact the defense strategy and the pursuit of a fair outcome. 

It's vital for individuals accused of domestic violence to grasp the nuances of these accusations, which vary in severity and can lead to different levels of legal consequences.  

Degrees of Domestic Assault Accusations 

Accusations of domestic violence or assault are categorized into degrees that signify the seriousness of the alleged offense. Understanding these degrees can guide those accused through the complexities of the legal process. 

First Degree Domestic Assault 

First-degree domestic assault involves the most severe and harmful behaviors towards a victim, characterized by an intention to cause serious physical injury or harm. The legal framework considers this degree as the most grievous, carrying the highest penalties.

Examples include: 

  • Inflicting severe physical injury intentionally, such as using a weapon 

  • Attempted murder 

  • Assault that results in permanent disability or disfigurement 

  • Sexual assault under coercive conditions 

Second Degree Domestic Assault 

Second-degree domestic assault constitutes actions that are intended to cause physical harm, albeit with less premeditation or intent to cause serious injury compared to the first-degree. This degree involves a considerable level of physical force that is likely to produce injuries.

Examples encompass: 

  • Striking or hitting a victim with the intent to injure but not to cause grievous harm 

  • Attempted strangulation without intent to kill 

  • Assault with a dangerous object not resulting in serious injury 

  • Threats of serious physical harm that put the victim in immediate fear 

Third Degree Domestic Assault 

Third-degree domestic assault covers actions that cause or attempt to cause physical injury by means of negligence or indirect harm. This is often seen as the least severe category, with a focus on behaviors that intimidate, threaten, or coerce a victim without direct physical contact.

Examples include: 

  • Reckless behavior causing bodily injury to another, such as reckless driving 

  • Menacing actions that put someone in fear of imminent physical harm 

  • Negligently handling a dangerous instrument leading to someone’s injury 

  • Minor physical contact intended to intimidate or coerce, like shoving or spitting 

Understanding the different degrees of domestic assault helps in identifying the severity of the situation and enables victims and legal professionals alike to pursue the most appropriate course of action for protection and justice. 

Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature 

Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN) represents an escalated form of domestic assault that encompasses particularly violent and dangerous behaviors.

This classification is reserved for cases where the actions of the perpetrator cause or potentially cause "great bodily injury" to the victim or are conducted in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, reflecting a blatant disregard for human life.  

DVHAN often involves the use of deadly weapons, severe physical assaults resulting in extensive injuries, or conditions that present a significant threat of death or serious bodily harm. The legal system treats DVHAN with utmost seriousness due to the elevated risks it poses to victims.  

Convictions for DVHAN carry severe penalties, including extensive prison sentences, aiming to reflect the grave nature of these offenses and provide a deterrent against such violent acts within domestic settings. 

The Importance of Understanding the Different Degrees of Domestic Assault 

Understanding the different degrees of domestic assault is crucial for several reasons. For individuals accused of domestic assault, recognizing these degrees is essential in comprehending the seriousness of the accusations against them and the potential legal consequences they face.  

This awareness facilitates informed decisions when navigating the legal system, selecting criminal defense legal representation, and developing a defense strategy. 

Differentiating Between Assault and Domestic Violence  

It is crucial for those accused to understand that domestic violence includes a wider spectrum of behaviors beyond physical assault, such as emotional or financial abuse. In legal terms, "domestic assault" specifically refers to accusations of physical abuse. Clarifying the nature of the accusations is pivotal in forming an appropriate legal response. 

Moving Forward After an Accusation 

Facing accusations of domestic assault requires a nuanced and informed defense approach. At the Law Office of Michael D. Litman, PLLC, we are dedicated to providing accused individuals with a defense that thoroughly considers the context and specifics of each case.  

We serve those in Westchester County, New York, and clients throughout the surrounding areas, including White Plains, Harrison, and Yonkers. Our goal is to ensure that the accused's rights are protected and to work toward the most favorable outcome under the law. 

If you or someone you know has been accused of domestic violence, understanding your legal stance and rights is the first step towards navigating this challenging situation. We are here to offer legal advice, support, and representation to those accused, aiming to safeguard their future and address the accusations with the seriousness and attention they warrant.


DUI vs. DWI in New York  -

Though many states use DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) interchangeably, New York doesn't use the term DUI. Instead, the state prefers to use DWI and DWAI to categorize and penalize impaired driving.

Read More
What Men Should Do If Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence  -

At the Law Office of Michael D. Litman, PLLC, we stand firm in our commitment to defend and support men unjustly accused of domestic violence. Our mission extends beyond the courtroom; we aim to restore the dignity, freedom, and future of those who have been falsely accused.

Read More