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 perspective of the victim of a family violence assault. In this article, we 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 if ever faced with such a serious charge.
Under what circumstances might I be charged with family violence?
An accusation of family violence is any act by a member of a family or household against another member 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. For example, one spouse uses this claim to get the upper hand in a property dispute or child custody situation. This can result in a “finding” of family violence. For example, if an assaultive act gets reported to law enforcement, it will likely result in criminal action. Therefore, a person may get convicted of a crime and have his/her freedom taken away.
In a criminal context, we often think of family violence as 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 that the person finds offensive, even though the act does not result in any physical injury. Or, it may be just a verbal threat resulting in no physical contact.
These different levels of assaultive behavior are categorized in the Texas Penal Code in severity. Ranging 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 is, 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. 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 in law enforcement, the military, or some other profession that requires you to carry a weapon. This could also prevent you from being able to protect yourself, your home, and your loved ones.
- You may lose your job and/or professional license due to a family violence conviction. You will be at high risk if you are a pilot, teacher, bus driver, health care worker, child daycare worker, government employee, etc.
- You can be denied a hunting/fishing license if you are a hunter or a fisherman.
- Your case could be seriously compromised if you are involved in a child custody dispute. Not only will you likely be denied custody, but you may also even be denied access to your children under certain circumstances. In addition, your spouse may be awarded spousal maintenance if you are convicted or receive deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that constitutes an act of family violence.
- A family violence conviction can affect your immigration status and lead to deportation if you are a non-citizen.
- As stated above, future family violence charges can be higher 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 a court may impose is for you to complete a battering intervention and prevention program.
How can I get more information about the collateral consequences of a family violence conviction?
Needless to say, you do not want an allegation of family violence to take away your rights as a parent, 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 a resolution to these allegations that avoids all the consequences stated above. If 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.