Collateral Consequences of a “family violence” Conviction
What are the “collateral consequences” of a “family violence” conviction?
In our previous article we explored what the term “family violence” means under Texas law, primarily from the prospective of the victim of a family violence assault. In this article we will discuss the consequences of such a finding or conviction from the perspective of someone falsely accused, and why you need the assistance of a competent attorney to represent you should you ever be faced with such a serious charge.
Under what circumstances might I be charged with family violence?
Remember that an accusation for family violence is any act by a member of a family or household against another member that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm.
Allegations of family violence often arise in a civil action for divorce/child custody, where one spouse attempts use this claim get the upper hand in a property dispute or child custody situation. This can result in a “finding” of family violence. If an assaultive act gets reported to law enforcement, however, it will likely result in a criminal action, which means that a person may get convicted of a crime and have his/her freedom taken away.
In a criminal context we oftentimes think of family violence in terms of some serious assaultive behavior whereby the alleged victim is injured in some meaningful way. However, there are varying degrees of what can amount to an “assault.” An assault can indeed be an act resulting in serious bodily injury and/or involving the use of a deadly weapon. But it also may be as simple as touching a family member in a manner in which the person finds offensive, even though the act does not result in any physical injury. Or, it may even be just a verbal threat resulting in no actual physical contact at all.
These different levels of assaultive behavior are categorized in the Texas Penal Code in terms of severity, ranging all the way from felonies involving long penitentiary sentences in the most serious cases, to minor misdemeanors punishable only by a fine in the most minor cases. Whatever the current charge may be, the charge can be “enhanced” to a higher level if there are prior family violence convictions on your record from past incidents.
Regardless of the severity of the charge, you do not want to have a conviction or a finding of family violence levied against you, as it can cause problems for you in addition to being punished for having committed a crime.
So what are some of the “collateral consequences” of family violence?
If you are found to have committed family violence in either a criminal or a civil action, exactly how the collateral consequences may affect your life will vary depending on your personal situation, and how the claim is brought against you in court. In addition to going to jail you may experience one or more of the following events to touch your life:
- You can no longer own or possess a firearm. This consequence may cause you to lose your career if you are in law enforcement, the military, or some other profession that requires you to carry a weapon. This will also prevent you from being able to protect yourself, your home, and loved ones.
- You may lose your job and/or your professional license as a result of a family violence conviction. You will be at high risk if you are a pilot, teacher, bus driver, health care worker, child daycare worker, a government employee, etc.
- If you are a hunter or a fisherman, you can be denied a hunting/fishing license.
- If you are involved in a child custody dispute, your case will be seriously compromised. Not only will you likely be denied custody, you may even be denied access to your children under certain circumstances. In addition, your spouse may be awarded spousal maintenance if you are convicted or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence.
- A family violence conviction can affect your immigration status and can lead to deportation if you are a non-citizen.
- As stated above, future family violence charges can be enhanced to a higher level if convicted of a prior family violence assault.
- You may become subject to the terms and conditions of a protective order: either an “Emergency” Protective Order authorized by the Code of Criminal Procedure, or a Protective Order authorized by the Family Code. The emergency order can be issued by a magistrate against you even before you are released from jail on bond. One of the many terms that a court may impose is for you to complete a battering intervention and prevention program.
How can I get more information about this topic?
Needless to say, you do not want an allegation of family violence to take away your rights as a parent, or to detrimentally affect your life or to take away your freedom. If a family member makes such an allegation against you, it is imperative that you immediately seek the assistance of competent legal counsel. By calling this office we will seek to arrive at a resolution to these allegations that avoids all the consequences above stated. In the event the case must be tried, our trial lawyers are experienced and skilled at presenting the best case possible to the jury on your behalf.
If you would like more information about how to protect yourself against allegations of family violence, please call the Bigham Law Firm at (979) 743-4153 for a free consultation.
THE BIGHAM LAW FIRM
PERSONAL INJURY | CRIMINAL DEFENSE | FAMILY LAW
Ken Bigham Jr. has nearly three decades of experience navigating the law to protect his clients from unfair treatment by insurance companies, the government and corporations. He believes that Bigham Law’s purpose is to provide outstanding value to its clients and compassionate service to its community.
Mr. Bigham and his staff have provided me with exceptional service. They have gone above and beyond to assist me with every detail regarding my case.