An argument with your romantic partner or even an attempt to discipline a willful teenager could lead to allegations of domestic violence. Police officers responding to domestic violence calls often have to make snap judgments about the circumstances and may arrest someone who didn’t intend to hurt another person or break state law.
Many people desperately want to defend against allegations of domestic violence because they perceive them as being damaging to their reputation and career. On the other hand, people may worry that the more time they spend in court, the more likely it is that people will learn about the accusations against them.
Some people facing domestic violence charges will plead guilty because they don’t want to go to trial. However, once you plead guilty, you put yourself at risk of three different kinds of serious penalties.
The first category of penalties is the most obvious. Depending on your prior criminal record and the circumstances leading to your arrest, the penalty for a domestic violence conviction can include fines as well as jail time or probation.
When you plead guilty, unless you have a specific plea deal in place relating to the penalties, you are still at the mercy of the judge who will sentence you. There is no guarantee that you will avoid incarceration or other serious consequences by pleading guilty.
Some employers have a zero-tolerance policy for any criminal conviction. Others take immediate punitive action for an employee convicted of a violent offense. Even if you don’t lose your job, you may not meet the standards necessary to secure promotions in the future and could have a hard time securing a new job with another company because you can no longer pass a background check.
A criminal charge can also mean that you lose your state license if you work in a regulated field like education or medicine. Finally, you could even lose your legal right to bear firearms with a domestic violence conviction, which could affect you if you are a military service number or work in private security or law enforcement.
A domestic violence accusation could affect your rights as a parent and influence the outcome of a divorce. You could lose custody of your children or wind up subject to supervised visitation requirements. Even domestic violence charges from years ago could surface in a dispute with a future partner or with the state regarding the care of your children.