Domestic Violence: Convictions Can Change Everything

Domestic violence can destroy a family. Not only does the physical abuse result in pain and suffering for the victim, but the long-term mental anguish also can make it difficult for everyone involved in the situation. Even false allegations of domestic violence can create problems that can forever change a person's life. Because of the emotionally-charged nature of these crimes, many people simply plead guilty to try to make the matter disappear, often without realizing the implications of their actions.

The number of reported domestic violence cases remains high. According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, there were 12,855 incidents of domestic violence in 2009. Nearly 70 percent of these episodes were simple assaults, with another 15 percent being aggravated assaults. There were also 22 homicides tied to domestic violence during this period. Women were the victims in nearly 80 percent of reported incidents of domestic violence.

Legislators have created strong rules to punish those who are convicted of domestic violence. Many states have mandatory arrest laws in place, and Colorado is no exception. Police are required to arrest the abuser if there is evidence to show that abuse has occurred, which is often the first step in a very long process.

Restrictions in Place After Arrest and Conviction

Those arrested will often need to comply with a mandatory order of protection that goes in place at the time of arrest and will last as long as the court feels it is necessary. This restricts the accused from going to any location where the victim may be present, including a residence or place of employment. There can be no contact with the victim, meaning no phone calls, texts, emails or attempts to communicate using a third party.

In addition to the order for protection, an offender may be sentenced to jail time or probation, depending upon the circumstances of the case. If the offender has had other convictions related to domestic violence, the sentence will be more severe. It will be extremely important to understand how prior criminal history will impact an individual who is facing new charges.

After an offender has completed any jail time, and as part of ongoing monitoring, Colorado requires completion of a court-ordered treatment plan. The plan will vary, depending upon the risk factors and past history, but is designed to reduce the chances that there will be any future abuse. This may include treatment for alcohol or substance abuse, if this was a factor in the incident. If the offender fails to participate in the program, the court may impose additional punishments.

The court has several options that it can impose when it is time for sentencing, but there are also federal rules that apply to anyone convicted of domestic violence. For example, those convicted will no longer be able to own firearms - nor be able to be in the presence of firearms. For hunters, this can be an extremely devastating consequence of a conviction. There are many people who find out about this rule when it is too late, and once these privileges have been revoked, it is very difficult to have these consequences reversed.

With several military installations within the state, a conviction could also result in the loss of a government job. A conviction will make someone ineligible for top-secret security clearances which could be career-ending for those in positions that require such permissions. If the offender is in the military, they will be thrown out of the service and prohibited from reenlisting.

Impact of Conviction Upon Daily Life

A conviction will impact nearly every part of someone's life. Any sort of occupation that has some type of public trust component, such as a teacher or social worker, will more than likely be off-limits. Professionals may lose their licenses to practice in their chosen fields. Those considering going to college will be ineligible for student loans. Landlords may decide to not rent to someone with a criminal record, since leases cannot be enforced if domestic violence is occurring in the household.

If the offender has children, he or she may be unable to have custody or visitation after a conviction. This is often an issue in divorces, as occasionally an angry parent will make untrue accusations against the other parent to improve his or her chances of getting custody. If the parties live together, one party may need to leave the home, which can make receiving parenting time difficult.

Minimizing the Future Consequences

With so much to lose, it is important that you know how a conviction will impact the rest of your life. The decisions you make today could result in you losing rights that you will not be able to recover. Speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area before you decide the options that are best for you.