By: Mark Diaz
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How A Domestic Violence Conviction Can Impact Your Life
If you face a domestic violence charge, you should know what can happen if you are convicted. In addition to jail time and fines, many other consequences could linger for years. Learn more below, then speak to our Galveston County domestic violence lawyers at Mark Diaz & Associates for the best criminal defense.
Table of Contents
Penalties For A Domestic Violence Conviction
If you are convicted of this crime, the penalties can be severe, depending if the charge is domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, or continuous violence against the family. The charges could be a Class A misdemeanor up to a first-degree felony, and punishments can be as little as one year in jail and as high as 99 years in prison for the most severe charge. Fines usually range between $4,000 and $10,000.
However, the court could order community supervision or probation for a period rather than jail or prison time for lesser charges. You must comply with all terms of your community supervision or probation terms, or you could be imprisoned. You also may be required to have anger management counseling.
Furthermore, the judge could issue a protective order that prevents you from visiting the victim. This protective order could be valid for two years and prevent you from going near where the person lives, works, or goes to school. A domestic violence conviction can also affect any child custody or divorce proceedings.
Trouble Finding Work Or Going To School
One of the most severe consequences of a domestic violence conviction after serving your sentence is finding or keeping a job. Most companies perform background checks on possible employees. If they see you have a domestic assault conviction, you could be refused employment. Also, if you lie about that aspect of your past, it could make the situation worse.
It also is possible to be denied employment based on the kind of work. For example, if the work involves children or women, employment could be denied if you have a domestic violence conviction. Further, you could have difficulty keeping your job if you are employed in these areas:
- Daycare provider
- Military member
- Bus driver
- City, county, or state employee
- Police officer
- Healthcare worker
Jobs that require you to have a security clearance, special license, or carry a gun could be challenging to keep. Also, when facing a domestic violence charge, appearing in court could complicate your efforts to stay employed.
If you are in college or planning to attend, you could also face criminal record problems. For example, colleges and universities sometimes perform background checks and can deny attendance if you have been convicted of domestic assault.
One of the quickest ways to lose in your child custody dispute is to be convicted of domestic violence. In addition, the family court judge may question your ability to obtain or maintain custody of your children.
You May Need To Move Or Be Forced To Be Deported
Another consequence of being convicted of domestic violence is you could lose your home. The judge could order you to vacate your home if that is where the victim lives. Also, finding a new place to live could be challenging because some property owners will not rent to someone with a violent criminal record.
If you are not a US citizen, being convicted of domestic violence could cause you to be deported. You also could be given a denial of re-entry.
Loss of Status
Being charged with domestic violence can lead to a loss of status where you live. Your friends, coworkers, neighbors, and acquaintances could shun you. If you are convicted, anyone who knows about it might not want anything to do with you, which can be profoundly upsetting and life-altering to most.
Loss Of Voting Rights
If you are convicted of a felony, you will lose your voting rights indefinitely.
Loss of Gun And Hunting Rights
If you have guns, you could be required to sell them or hand them over to the police when you have a domestic violence conviction. In addition, you could be banned from having a gun for up to five years after completing your domestic violence sentence.
Note that these restrictions are because of federal law and not the laws of Texas. The Lautenberg Amendment was passed by Congress in 1996 banned people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. This was an amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968. You also could be prohibited from having a hunting or fishing license because of a domestic violence conviction.
How To Fight A Texas Domestic Violence Charge
All domestic violence charges must be taken seriously, but there are many false accusations made. If you are innocent of the charge, there are things you can do to increase the chances of the charges being dismissed:
Provide Your Side
When the police came, they might have ignored your side of events and did not add it to the police report. So, you should be proactive and make your own record of your side. Write down what happened as soon as possible when your memories are freshest. A trial could be months away, so writing it all down the same or the next day could help your lawyer construct a defense.
Obtain Witness Statements
Did anyone witness what happened? Get the names and contact info for those people to your lawyer. They will then be able to get statements from anyone who saw the incident, including a sworn statement, and audio and video recordings can also be effective.
If the alleged victim was under the influence, they could be less credible. Intoxication might be a sign to the jury that the victim was untruthful or was not thinking as clearly as they could have been. Video and photos from a cell phone and surveillance videos can help show the alleged victim was intoxicated before the alleged event occurred. These things should be provided to your attoney, if they exist.
Before and after photos can be useful to fight domestic violence charges. The photos could show that there were no injuries or even the alleged victim attacked you. Again, these should be provided to your attorney.
Text messages can be a practical part of a domestic violence defense case. Text messages are a permanent record of someone’s feelings and thoughts at a given time. So, text messages are persuasive evidence for a jury to consider.
Social media posts also can be a powerful part of your defense. Sometimes the alleged victim will make social media posts undermining their domestic violence claims.
Dress Well For Court Appearances
Many criminal defense attorneys recommend dressing well for all court hearings. It also can help to cover tattoos with a cover cream or clothing. Dressing like an executive every time you are in court can make a big difference in what happens with a domestic violence charge.
Some attorneys note that even making a good impression on the prosecutor by dressing well can make a difference in how the case turns out. The thinking is that prosecutors know that well-dressed defendants make a stronger impression on jurors, making them more likely to make a deal.
Has the Victim Signed an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution?
Sometimes the alleged victim will make up a charge or change their mind about pressing charges. However, after a domestic violence report is made, the case will continue to go through the Galveston County prosecutor’s office. The office may decline to pursue the matter, but that is up to the prosecutor.
However, the alleged victim can help by signing an affidavit of non-prosecution if that isd what they desire to do on their own. The idea of this document is to tell the district attorney that the victim does not want the case to continue. Depending on the situation, signing the affidavit could result in positive implications on the case. That being said, the state can still proceed even if the alleged victim doesn’t want to proceed with the case.
So, even if the alleged victim does not want the case to continue, the state can continue with it until the bitter end if they choose. In this situation, you need the best domestic violence defense attorney you can find.
Contact Our Galveston County Domestic Violence Lawyers Today
Have you been charged with domestic violence in Texas? You face jail, fines, community service, and more. After you serve your sentence, you also could have difficulty finding or keeping a job or renting an apartment. That is why fighting the charge as hard as possible is essential. Contact our Galveston County domestic violence lawyers today at Mark Diaz & Associates at (409) 515-6170.