Consequences of a Conviction on Domestic Violence
Radical changes in the way our legal system deals with domestic violence charges have been implemented in the past few years. As society’s attitude toward domestic violence has shifted, more and more laws have been enacted specifically addressing domestic violence within our states. These changes have resulted in much more severe penalties and consequences for those convicted of domestic violence. The person convicted of domestic violence may face enhanced jail or prison sentences, extremely high fines and fees and a sentence of completion of a fifty-two week batterer’s treatment class. Aside from the criminal penalties the offender will face there will also be long-term consequences including the loss of employment opportunities, the inability to obtain a student loan or bank loan and even the inability to rent a house or apartment.
The convicted person could find it impossible to get a professional license, even one they have worked for years to obtain. He could be unable to get a governmental job and may have a state license which allows them to engage in a particular type of business revoked entirely. A domestic violence conviction could mean the offender has lost the right to possess firearms, could lose immigration status and may even lose child custody or visitation rights. Additionally, victims of domestic violence are allowed to file civil suit against their abuser resulting in large compensatory and punitive damages.
Some states will also authorize family courts to give one partner the other’s interests in all shared community property as payment for damages following such a civil suit. Even if the convicted person avoids jail time they could be sentenced to probation for two years or even longer during which they will have to report regularly to a probation officer, proving they are meeting the required conditions. In the end, domestic violence is considered a crime of moral turpitude meaning the convicted person could experience widespread issues regarding their credibility, regardless of the situation.
Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges
Common defenses to domestic violence charges include self-defense, accident and false accusations. Many times during a heated domestic dispute both individuals are physically participating. Should one of the parties throw up an arm to stop a blow from their spouse, inadvertently striking the spouse in the process, then it can be argued that the blow was accidental. In other cases one spouse might strike the other as a means of protecting themselves from attack and self-defense can be argued. False accusations are also quite common in cases where there are other issues at hand. Perhaps a divorce is in the works or child custody is contested. One spouse may instigate a full-blown argument simply to be able to make false accusations of domestic abuse against the other as a form of revenge. A girlfriend who suspects a boyfriend of cheating could create a loud argument, report him to the police all in order to teach him a lesson.
If you have been charged with domestic violence it is extremely important that you get a highly experienced personal injury attorney on board at the earliest opportunity possible. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with a broad background in domestic violence defense can minimize the damage to your future if they have the opportunity to defend your charges early on.
Many people are shocked to find out that assault charges can be leveled against a person who has merely threatened violence but has not actually hit or otherwise touched the target of their anger. In other instances a verbal altercation between neighbors in which one ends up poking the other in the chest with a finger to make a point can also lead to charges of assault. Therefore a person who believes you intend them harm or fears harm after you have threatened to hit or kick them can charge you with assault, although it could be harder to prove than a case where there is physical evidence of your anger or where there were witnesses. In most cases simple assault is charged as a misdemeanor—assuming only minor injuries were received.
This could change if the person who was assaulted was elderly, a government official, a sports officiator, a security guard or any other type of public servant. In these instances a Class B misdemeanor could be upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor. If the assault was against a member of your family, a spouse or partner, the charges could be elevated to a third-degree felony. Depending on where you live, a simple Class A misdemeanor assault can bring fines as high as several thousand dollars and jail time from a few days to a year. Simple assault is generally charged when there is a bar brawl or when a fight or scuffle ensued from a mutual altercation. In most jurisdictions, simple assault charged as a Class A or B misdemeanor will be handled through the Municipal Court where the alleged assault occurred.
The use of a weapon when committing the crime of assault elevates the charges to aggravated assault. Aggravated assault can be charged as a second, third or fourth-degree felony charge, depending on the circumstances and the state of residence. Penalties for aggravated assault are much more severe than those for simple assault. Should the victim have been a law enforcement officer, a public official, a security guard, a firefighter, teacher, medical professional, prison guard, witness to a crime or an informant then it can actually become a first-degree felony, punishable from five years to live in prison along with extensive fines. Aggravated assaults generally result in serious physical injury, cause temporary but significant disfigurement or injury to another person, occur after the accused entered another’s private residence or are committed with a deadly weapon.
Defenses to the Crime of Assault
It is critical that you hire a highly experienced assault attorney as soon in the process as possible. Even if you have an idea that you will be charged with assault at any level, you must get competent legal assistance in order to minimize the long-term effects of an assault conviction. If you feel you are innocent, your attorney may choose to dispute whether an assault—in the legal sense of the definition—actually took place. The evidence may be called into question, or if there was eyewitness testimony the attorney may challenge whether the witnesses actually saw what they said they saw. An affirmative defense could be launched on your behalf meaning the person accused admits the assault but believes they had a legal and compelling reason to do so. This means the person assaulted another in order to prevent them from stealing something or from harming someone in their family. Regardless of the method your attorney chooses to defend you against assault charges, aggressive intervention is crucial.
Charges of rape are extremely serious and can have repercussions that last a lifetime. Date rape is a bit different than a sexual assault which occurs between a victim and an unknown predator however the consequences can be just as serious for the perpetrator. Date rape occurs when a forcible sexual contact between two parties who know one another takes place. The person who was raped in this situation had no intentions of engaging in sexual activity and resisted the contact while making her objections clear.
The fact that the parties know one another, at least on a casual basis, is not a defense to date rape charges nor is it a defense should the parties have engaged in sexual contact prior to the incident in question. Should the victim be intoxicated by alcohol or drugs or have been drugged with a so-called “date rape” drug, then they are considered to be incapable of giving legal consent. Date rape is both the most common type of rape and also the most under-reported.
False Accusations of Date Rape
Not all of those who find themselves charged with date rape are guilty of such a serious crime. It is well-documented that a certain portion of date rape allegations are completely false, generally because the accuser is angry about something or wants to get revenge. In some cases the accuser caught the accused cheating on them with another person or has some emotional reason to want to “get even.” In some cases the accuser feels remorse for consensual sexual contact after a night of drinking and alleges date rape, or, when questioned by parents claims date rape rather than admit to having had consensual sexual relations. Having taken illegal drugs with alcohol can lead to gaps in memory which could cause false allegations as well. Date rape is a very powerful accusation that can alter the life of the person accused forever. A skilled criminal defense attorney will use every means at his or her disposal to challenge the credibility of the accuser.
What Happens After an Accusation of Date Rape?
A person accused of date rape will have a warrant issued for their arrest, and will either turn themselves in or be arrested and brought into custody where they will be advised of their Miranda rights and given the opportunity to contact an attorney. No matter how anxious and scared you are once arrested for the crime of date rape it is crucial that you not speak to anyone until you’ve had the opportunity to consult your lawyer. You may feel that it would be to your benefit to try and explain to the police officer that you did not commit the crime of date rape, but just like the Miranda warning says, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
No matter how friendly the officer seems, remember that he is only looking for you to make a statement which will help him prove your guilt. You may also be fingerprinted, required to participate in a lineup, be photographed and required to give a DNA sample and could even be asked to provide a handwriting sample. It cannot be stressed enough that you absolutely must have an attorney by your side during this time. The act of calling an attorney immediately after you either know you have been accused or you have been arrested can make the difference between spending time in jail and registering as a sex offender for life and being acquitted of all charges or having the charges dropped completely.
Because of the nature of the crime defending date rape can be tricky, but proving date rape can be equally tricky. Allegations of date rape generally come down to “he said-she said,” meaning the credibility of both parties will be a huge factor. Defenses—aside from factual innocence—can include insufficient or tainted evidence, mistaken identity and, in some cases, consent. Penalties can include incarceration, fines and mandatory sex offender registration as well as a ruined reputation, the inability to get employment or decent housing or even acquire a bank loan or a student loan. Friends and family may cut the convicted person from their lives and in some cases reputations are destroyed even when the accused is found not guilty. You need and deserve an aggressive, skilled legal defender who can instigate early intervention for the most positive results.
Solicitation of a minor involves a person over the age of eighteen who, whether by oral, written mail, electronic communication, electronic mail or Internet services, requires, hires, persuades invites or attempts to induce a person under the age of 17 to participate in a sexual activity. In our current Internet age, solicitation of a minor most often occurs through online chat rooms. It is extremely important that a person charged with solicitation of a minor have a thorough understanding of the charges, the potential penalties and the defense of the crime in order to avoid long-term, life-changing consequences in the event of a conviction.
In some cases false accusations are involved, and in other cases the act with the minor was never completed. Many times law enforcement personnel will charge the accused with solicitation of a minor simply for communicating in an inappropriate manner with a minor. This type of communication could be via e-mail, text message or in a chat room. Entrapment is common in these types of cases when a law enforcement officer is used to coax the suspect into saying things they might never have otherwise said. Note, however that it is not a defense to solicitation of a minor simply because an undercover police officer posed as a child during the online conversations. In other cases the accused believes they are talking to a person over the age of 17 when in reality the person is much younger. Reasonable doubt can be a valid defense when it cannot be proven that the person knew they were speaking to a minor.
Penalties for Solicitation of a Minor
Solicitation of a minor is a felony offense meaning the punishment can be quite severe. Prison sentences of several years are possible, depending on the specific charges and in some cases the convicted person will be required to engage in sex offender counseling, register as a sex offender and refrain from being around children while on probation. The prison sentence can be as long as five years in prison and in some states there is a minimum prison sentence of twenty-one months. Fees and fines can be prohibitively expensive following a solicitation of a minor conviction—sometimes as high as $5,000 in court fines.
The fees can include the cost of programs the court sentences registered sex offenders to which can run into hundreds of dollars per month. Also, each individual use of a computer or electronic device can result in individual criminal offense charges. This means that an offender who used a computer on five separate occasions to discuss engaging in unlawful sexual contact could be charged with five separate counts. Aside from court-imposed penalties, a conviction for any type of sexual offense brings social stigma which can cost offenders their family, friends, job and social standing in their community. The convicted sex offender could find themselves unable to gain employment, unable to secure a student loan or bank loan and even unable to obtain housing.
If you are facing charges of solicitation with a minor it is imperative you contact a discreet, compassionate and highly experienced criminal defense attorney who tried such cases in court and who has a broad background in defending sex crimes. Don’t hide your head in the sand and hope the charges will go away or be dropped. You need immediate legal intervention in order to ensure these charges do not haunt you for the rest of your life.