The court system takes domestic violence charges very seriously, and if you are charged with a domestic violence offense it can drastically change your life. How you react after being charged can make a big difference in how your future will play out, so it is important to think things through and make the right decisions. Take the following steps after being charged with a domestic violence offense:
Understand the Consequences
The last thing you want on your record is a domestic violence conviction. This type of charge can follow you around for the rest of your life, even if it is a misdemeanor. When you have a domestic violence conviction, you will be banned from owning, transporting, or using a gun or ammunition, you will not be able to pass the background check to obtain a fingerprint clearance card, and you may have problems finding a good job or renting property.
Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the victim of domestic violence can decide to drop the charges and the whole problem will go away without ever having to go to court. In most counties that is no longer the way things work, and prosecutors move forward with the case if they have sufficient evidence, regardless of the victim's wishes. If you're charged with a domestic violence offense, it is essential to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible to defend you in court.
While most domestic violence cases are not dropped by the prosecutors, a good criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate a good plea deal that will allow the charges to be dismissed if you fulfill certain conditions. Typically, in order to have the charges dismissed you will be required to take anger management classes or a domestic violence education course.
Closely Follow Court Orders
Depending on the situation that led to your arrest, the court may issue a no-contact order which prohibits you from being in contact with the victim. It is very important to respect this order, even if it means that you are unable to go to your home for a certain amount of time. Failure to follow the no-contact order can result in further consequences and may ruin your chances of getting a plea deal that can lead to your charges being dismissed. In addition, make sure that you are present at every scheduled court date in order to avoid being found guilty by default.