So that argument between you and your roommate/spouse/partner/family member gets out of hand. You may have just gotten a little too drunk (intoxication), it may have just been yelling (disorderly conduct) or breaking something (criminal mischief) or taking the phone (damage or interruption of a communication device) or it may have gone as far as push, slap, or punch (assault) and if kids were around (DV in the presence of a child). One thing is certain. When the police officer arrives someone is going to get arrested.
Here’s the rub. The moment that the arrest is made the term “domestic violence” gets stuck to your criminal record. There go job opportunities, your 2nd amendment rights to possess a gun/firearm, your ability to remain or become a legal citizen if you aren’t already and your ability to readily expunge your record.
In return you are given court dates, protective orders prohibiting you from seeing your loved ones and returning to your home and an inability; if you are the victim, to choose how the prosecutor will handle the case.
Then there’s the court date. Depending on the jurisdiction the prosecutor will attempt to make you some kind of a deal and may threaten you with jail if you don’t take it. Don’t kid yourself, they do not represent you and do not have your best interests in mind.
Plead guilty or accept a plea in abeyance and here come the real problems. A conviction wherein you lose everything we talked about above. An expensive assessment/interview with a counselor who will put you immediately into a more expensive 16 week counseling course. This could blossom into more counseling and drug testing/urinalyses (ua’s) if it’s discovered that you use alcohol or drugs. All of this personal information is then sent to the judge for review. In addition, you will be ordered to pay heavy fines and fees. Oh, and by the way, that protective order may or may not go away leaving you homeless and alone.
Do yourself a favor if you find yourself confronted with a domestic violence charge of any kind. Talk to your lawyer. It’s the only way you can ensure that your rights will be safeguarded and that your life will not be irreparably altered.
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