A conviction for a domestic violence crime carries more direct, indirect and collateral consequences than a conviction for any other offense. Domestic violence convictions carry serious and often life-long consequences that may significantly affect your personal rights and privileges, family life and career.
In Utah, a felony domestic violence conviction carries a possible prison term of up to five years and a possible fine of up to $5,000.00, plus surcharges and fees. A misdemeanor domestic violence conviction carries a possible jail Utah Criminal Lawyerterm of up to one year and a possible fine of up to $2,500.00, plus surcharges and fees. For first time misdemeanor convictions, jail terms are typically shortened or suspended. Probation is imposed along with alternative penalties specifically tailored to crimes of domestic violence. During the term of probation, the offender may be required to pay fines, complete community service and complete a mandatory anger management program, individual or group therapy and/or an educational program. For subsequent or felony convictions, a longer jail or prison term will most certainly be imposed.
A domestic violence conviction may significantly and negatively impact an offender’s career. Criminal convictions are public record, and the stigma that is attached to domestic violence crimes often prevents offenders from obtaining future employment. Domestic violence crimes are generally a bar to jobs in the public service sector, such as teaching, health care and social services. Even after criminal records are expunged, certain government agencies, health care providers and public schools have access to prior criminal convictions. Convictions must also be reported to professional licensing agencies and may result in the loss of or inability to obtain a license to engage in a certain type of business.
Domestic violence consequences may include limited access to an offender’s children. Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. §§ 30-3-10 and 30-3-10.2, Utah courts must consider domestic violence in the home or the presence of the children when determining an appropriate custody and visitation arrangement. Family court commissioners are sensitive to allegations of abuse or violence. It is uncommon for any parent convicted of domestic violence to be awarded primary custody of his/her children.
Division of Property and Alimony:
In the event ofdivorcea domestic violence conviction may have an impact on the allocation of marital resources. Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-5, Utah courts divide assets equitably – not necessarily equally. In dividing property and awarding alimony, the court is permitted to consider the fault of the parties. Fault is defined, in part, as “knowingly and intentionally causing or attempting to cause physical harm to the other party.” Thus one of the consequences of a domestic violence conviction could be an unequal division of marital assets or a larger alimony award to the victim spouse.
Protective Order/No Contact Order:
Upon an arrest or citation for domestic violence, the offender will likely be issued a criminal no contact order. That order prevents the offender from contacting the alleged victim or from going to any place where the victim resides, works or is likely to be present. The obvious consequence of the no contact order is that the offender loses his right to reside at and access the marital or shared home. The offender will have to obtain an alternative residence while the no contact order remains in place. The no contact order also makes it difficult to arrange visitation with children and to access personal property, vehicles and other items located at the shared home.
In addition to the criminal no contact order, the alleged victim may seek a civil protective order. To obtain a civil protective order, the victim need only show that the offending party has committed domestic violence or threatened to commit domestic violence. A civil protective order also prevents the offender from contacting the alleged victim, going to the shared home or having any unauthorized contact with minor children. The consequence for violating the criminal no contact order or civil protective order is a separate class A misdemeanor charge.
Federal Firearms Law:
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms. That right is forfeited upon the commission of certain criminal offenses, including crimes of domestic violence. One of the most significant consequences of a domestic violence conviction is the loss of the constitutional right to bear arms. Federal law prohibits any person convicted of domestic violence from possessing a firearm. If a domestic violence offender is found in possession of a firearm, the offender may be charged under federal law and sentenced to ten years in prison. The federal firearm restriction will result in loss of employment for any offender who works for a law enforcement agency, the military or any other occupation that requires the use of a firearm.
The most serious consequence of a domestic violence conviction is deportation and inadmissibility. The commission of any crime of domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, child neglect or child abandonment is grounds for deportation. These grounds for removal do not require the conviction to be a felony or for the sentence to be at least one year in prison. Even a minor class C misdemeanor may result in removal. Federal law defines a domestic violence crime, or crime of violence, as “any offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another.” Violation of a criminal no contact order or civil protective order also triggers deportation.
Domestic violence charges are serious. The information contained in this section is no substitute to a personal consultation with an experienced attorney. If you have been charged with any misdemeanor or felony domestic violence crime, you should contact a criminal defense attorney.
Stacey Schmidt is lead counsel of the divorce and Family Law team at Schmidt Law. The aggressive and knowledgeable attorneys at Schmidt Law Firm will fight to protect your rights and to avoid unwanted consequences of domestic violence charges on your life. For more information areas of law that we practice, please visit http://sschmidtlaw.wpengine.com