Domestic violence is considered to be any type of violent conduct which either threatens or actually causes harm or injury to a spouse, any family member or any person currently residing in the home. The legal consequences of domestic violence can vary widely from state to state although in most cases the courts have the authority to act on a temporary basis if there is reasonable cause to believe domestic violence has taken place. In some instances the courts may bar the alleged perpetrator from having any type of contact with the alleged victim.
If the domestic violence allegations involve children, the person accused will likely be unable to have any contact with the children and will also have to move out of their home. Restraining orders can include contact at the alleged victim’s place of employment, school, or any other place the courts deem necessary. Following such emergency measures, the court must make every effort to conduct a full hearing or trial in a timely manner which will establish whether or not domestic violence did in fact occur. During this hearing, should the courts rule that an instance or instances of domestic violence took place the judge has a wide variety of remedies at his disposal.
Punishments the Judge May Implement
Permanent restraining orders could be issued, depending on the severity of the violence, and if the accused was judged to have engaged in violent behavior the court can refer the case for criminal prosecution. Even without a criminal proceeding, the victim in the matter can be awarded monetary damages, the accused can be liable for child support or spousal support, and may even lose the right to have any contact with his or her children.
Heated Arguments vs. True Domestic Violence
Because of the widespread media coverage and greater amounts of available information regarding domestic violence police departments tend to intervene in a very aggressive manner. This means that in the event a husband and wife are having an argument which gets a little out of hand with voices being raised and threats being thrown about, one or both parties could find themselves paying for such an error in judgment for a very long time to come. Even if the alleged victim recants a story told in anger later, the charges may still stand. Most all of us have had arguments with loved ones which escalated yet there is a difference between loud disagreement and even a push or shove and true domestic violence in which one family member is nothing more than a violent bully with that violence occurring nearly daily.
Criminal Prosecution for Domestic Violence
Should you be criminally accused of domestic violence and are convicted, whether through a trial or a guilty plea, you can face extremely serious consequences. In some states the first conviction for domestic violence can carry a maximum jail sentence of almost a year in the county jail and is considered a Class A misdemeanor which is the most serious misdemeanor, however it is just short of a felony. Even a misdemeanor, however, stays on your record for the rest of your life. Aside from serious jail time, a conviction of domestic violence can land you on supervised probation for up to a year, you could be subject to random drug screenings and be forced to pay probation fees and court costs—sometimes ranging more than $100 per month. Some judges will also sentence the offender to completion of domestic violence classes, community service and even making a significant monetary donation to a women’s shelter. A conviction for domestic violence can wreak havoc with your current employment as well as your future career prospects, and if you are employed as a police officer or other profession where you must carry a firearm you could be immediately dismissed. You might also be unable to obtain a professional license you have worked toward for years. If you have been accused of domestic violence don’t wait—call a highly experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to protect your rights and your future.