By: Mark Diaz
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Galveston Defense Attorney On Domestic Violence Charges and Punishments
Collateral Consequences Of Domestic Violence Convictions
I looked at popular search terms that lead people to my website, and a very high-ranking search searched in differing ways, deals with domestic violence, family assault charges, etc… so I thought I would do a quick video talking about the collateral consequences of a conviction for domestic violence. Specifically, if there is an affirmative finding of family violence.
Sometimes the punishment offered by the state is something a lot of people can accept. Let’s say it’s time served and a fine, or probation, it is usually a punishment someone can live with. However, and I say this too much when people represent themselves, they don’t understand the collateral consequences of an affirmative finding of family violence, which often comes with anything involving domestic violence.
Lose Right To Possess Firearms For Five Years
The affirmative finding can affect you in ways you never imagined. One of the biggest that I face often is that if there’s an affirmative finding of family violence, you will lose your right to possess firearms for five years. The reason that I run into this as a problem is that a lot of my clients charged with domestic violence are men who hunt. If there is an affirmative finding of family violence against you, you’re done hunting for the next five years, and a lot of people can’t handle that.
A Domestic Violence Conviction Can Impact Your Employment
Then of course another collateral consequence that’s important is that a charge like this could affect your employment. If you are a daycare worker, a teacher, in the military, a bus driver, a city, county, or state employee, a pilot, firefighter, police officer, health care worker, and you were to have an affirmative finding of family violence it would mean the loss of your employment.
Here locally, we’ve had cases in the past with police officers accused of something like this. They have gone to trial specifically because they had to attempt to fight this, so they would not lose their peace officer’s license. Any type of employment that requires security clearance, a special license, or the ability to carry a weapon will likely be affected. You would probably lose that employment if there was an affirmative finding of family violence, again, if you have to carry a gun as part of your employment, you’ll be barred from that for five years from the finding, so it’s a big deal.
You Can Lose Acceptance To A University
Another one we see is in colleges and universities. You could lose your acceptance to school with this type of charge. We see that with drugs as well. A young person with a drug charge can still go to school, however, it can affect their ability to get financial aid. So a lot of times people don’t understand that there can be collateral consequences outside of whatever punishment is being discussed in a case.
You Never Want To Represent Yourself In Court
In Galveston County, especially in misdemeanor court, people represent themselves daily. Many times they don’t know what collateral consequences they could face. The same thing goes if you’re not a United States citizen, depending upon your status, you could lose that status for a domestic violence case, you could be deported, or have your re-entry into the country denied. These are all things that competent attorneys are aware of and advise clients on. The problem that I see is people trying to represent themselves in misdemeanor court.
Recently, I was in a misdemeanor court. I was sitting at the counsel table and a young man had come up, who was representing himself. He didn’t speak English, so they were using a translator. I was listening to the plea negotiations and what he was about to walk into, and I just couldn’t take it. So, I spoke to him a little bit, got some more information, and I ended up working out a much better deal for him. I didn’t charge him, but I just knew that he did not fully understand the consequences of what he was about to do. I ended up standing in, helping him with the plea, and standing before the bench and helping him take his plea.
If you know me you know that it is a big irritation of mine that here in Galveston County, defendants in misdemeanor court are offered to speak to the DA themselves and attempt to work their case out without the help of either an appointed attorney or a retained attorney. So that got me on a path of collateral consequences to convictions. I was looking at the search history, again, and we had a high number of searches for cases involving domestic violence.
I know I’ve covered this before; I’ve blogged on it. However, I don’t know if I’ve ever touched on the collateral consequences of a conviction. There are resources that attorneys have, or we can look up collateral consequences for all types of convictions.
Crimes Of Moral Turpitude
Crimes of moral turpitude could affect your ability to seek employment. One is theft, theft is a crime of moral turpitude. Often people will get caught shoplifting at Walmart, Target, you name the store, and they’ll go to court by themselves. The prosecutors will offer something that sounds good, time served and a fine, or time served and no fine, just pay your court costs. To some people, it sounds really good, because they don’t have to pay a lawyer and they don’t have to do anything, plead guilty, and walk out of there.
The thing is with a conviction for theft, future employment will be almost impossible. I don’t know any employers off the top of my head that will hire anyone convicted of theft, the obvious concern being that this employee could potentially steal from the employer. So it’s important if you’re in a particular situation with whatever case you have, that you talk to your attorney about what you do for a living, and the possible collateral consequences to any conviction.
A good attorney is going to make sure that you understand the full range of possibilities that could happen in a case. Sometimes people will come to us that do not have a viable defense. When that happens, we have to find alternative ways to resolve a case, while avoiding these collateral consequences.
I recently had a woman that had been employed somewhere local for over 20 years and was arrested for shoplifting. HR found out and terminated her employment. It looks as though if I can get that case dismissed, the employer will let her return to employment, but just for the mere charge, she had not even been found guilty, and the employer terminated her employment. It’s going to turn out okay, I’ll make sure of that, but there’s just so much that you need to take into consideration before you make an ultimate decision about how you’re going to dispose of your case. I just wanted to touch on that as a shorter video today. I need to get back into the habit of doing these live sessions. I’ll try to hit you all again next Tuesday. Y’all enjoy the rest of your week.
Contact Our Galveston Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges for a crime in Galveston County or elsewhere in the area don’t try to represent yourself in court. Contact Mark Diaz and Associates at (409) 515-6170.