Being convicted of a domestic violence charge can have long-lasting negative effects on your ability to obtain employment, own a firearm or even see your children. If you have been charged with the crime of assault or battery against a family member, you must meet with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.
Domestic violence is a specific type of assaultive behavior directed toward members of a person’s family or household. It generally includes spouses, parents, children, romantic partners, step-family members, grandparents, and grandchildren. Allegations of assault against a neighbor, plutonic friend or co-worker cannot be categorized as domestic violence even if the parties maintain a close relationship.
The term domestic violence refers to several criminal acts when committed against any of the above-listed family members. You may face domestic violence penalties as a result of committing the crimes of offensive touching, menacing, sexual harassment, trespass, criminal mischief, sexual assault, terroristic threatening or reckless endangerment. In other words, if the prosecution can demonstrate that you committed these crimes against a family member, the penalties and sentence may be enhanced under applicable domestic violence laws.
The judge in your case will be most concerned with ensuring the safety of the alleged victim. Depending upon the relationship of the parties, the judge may order a temporary or permanent no-contact order. If the complainant in your case is the parent of your children, this could result in a difficult situation in terms of custody and visitation. Individuals convicted of domestic violence also have difficulty obtaining or maintaining primary placement of their children and may even lose visitation rights as a result of the conviction.
In addition to the civil penalties described above, you could face an enhanced incarceration period due to present aggravating factors. This may mean you are unable to see your family for weeks or months, unable to maintain your job and be prohibited from continuing your life as before. Domestic violence defendants are not permitted to own or possess firearms and many are forced to undergo lengthy anger management courses and counseling as a provision of their sentences.
Given the life-altering nature of a domestic violence conviction, it is imperative that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who can work to protect your freedom and relationship with your family. If this is your first time facing criminal charges and your history is clear of other felonies and misdemeanors, your attorney may be able to obtain leniency for you as a first-time offender, which could result in a dismissal of the pending charges.