When you have been charged with domestic violence, there are many implications beyond the obvious potential legal troubles of jail time and fines. Here, we’ll drill down into all the challenges that can result from a domestic violence charge, beyond the immediate legal consequences.
Domestic violence charges and laws not only vary from state to state; they can be a complex and sensitive personal matter that the involved parties are embarrassed to discuss. However, understanding not only the charges you may be facing if you are charged with domestic violence, but the additional potential problems that accompany such charges, is important and should be talked about.
Under South Carolina law, domestic violence means one party has been charged with threatening to do harm or actually harming another person with whom they have a “domestic” relationship. This means someone with whom you live, or used to live with (whether married or unmarried), and/or someone with whom you share a child or children. It is against the law to harm a household member, former or present.
There are different degrees of offense under the law, which depend on the circumstances and the severity of any injuries done to the other person. Penalties also vary, and depend on many factors, including whether or not you have previous incidents on your record. There are additional details that add to the severity of the sentence. For example, if a minor child was present during the incident, or you were in violation of an order of protection, or perhaps if a gun was used during the incident, the penalties are harsher. Suffice it to say, no matter what the circumstances, if you are arrested for domestic violence, you will want to retain an attorney to represent your interests in court.
Having a Record
A domestic violence charge, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, becomes a part of your permanent record. This can negatively affect your life in a number of ways, and for many years to come. Felons are not allowed to vote, for example, or to obtain and keep firearms. You may be turned down for a loan or for application to housing because of your record. Getting a job can also be a challenge. Most employers conduct background checks on potential employees—in fact, they are required for a number of jobs. While having a criminal conviction isn’t always an automatic disqualification for every job, it can make it extremely difficult to get the job of your choosing. If you try to further your education, schools, colleges, and universities can disallow you from attending if you have a history of arrests and/or convictions on your record. Or you may find it difficult or impossible to obtain financial aid or school loans to pursue an education.
In addition to the professional and personal challenges associated with having a criminal conviction for domestic violence on your record, there is also a great deal of social stigma related to this charge. Friends and neighbors will likely learn about your arrest and may follow your case through public records. You may be shunned from social gatherings and lose friends as a result of the incident. Even though circumstances may seem unfair or the incident may be more complicated than outsiders can understand, you should be prepared to deal with some life changes as a result of a domestic violence conviction.
That being said, once you pay your debt to society after a conviction, whether through fines, jail time, or both, you should be allowed to continue to live your life the best way possible for you. Though you will face challenges, knowing ahead of time what to expect can help you adjust your expectations and deal with the changes that are sure to come after a domestic violence charge.
At some point, your record may be eligible for expungement. This seals the record on your background so that it’s much less likely to negatively affect you in your pursuit of a happy and normal life.
An experienced lawyer can help you prepare your case, defend you in court, and help you understand the changes that will come after a domestic violence arrest. In some cases, they can also seek to expunge your record. If you are arrested on domestic violence charges in South Carolina, contact an experienced criminal attorney at the Leventis Law Firm immediately.