The Severe Consequences Of Domestic Violence

By: Donald P. Schweitzer

The fact that domestic violence causes physical injuries, dysfunctional families, and broken relationships is well known. However, unless you have been paying close attention to the legal developments related to this topic, you are probably unaware that there has been a radical change in the way our legal system deals with domestic violence.

Ever since our society's attitude toward domestic violence began to change, numerous laws have been enacted every year that specifically address domestic violence within our state and our federal statutes. As a result, the consequences of committing or being accused of committing domestic violence are also growing. The following list illustrates some of the severe consequences associated with domestic violence cases:

1) Enhanced jail or prison time, fines, the completion of a fifty-two week batterer's treatment class, and the issuance of a criminal protective order.

Our criminal justice system now deals with domestic violence as a unique offense. Domestic violence is no longer treated as a simple battery. Consequently, our system imposes enhanced and specialized sentences for these offenses.

2) The loss of employment opportunities.

One of the most serious consequences of domestic violence is the stigma that is attached to these crimes. With a conviction of domestic violence on one's record, it can be very difficult to obtain employment in certain types of occupations, especially jobs within government.

3) The denial or revocation of a state license to engage in a particular type of business.

An allegation of having committed domestic violence can also make it difficult for a person to obtain or maintain a state issued license, such as a license to sell real estate or a license to work in or operate a care facility.

4) The issuance of a criminal and/or family law restraining order.

Restraining orders are issued by criminal and family courts routinely where there are allegations of domestic violence. An obvious consequence to these orders is the loss of liberty, to the extent the order forbids the restrained party from going to certain locations.

5) The loss of the right to possess firearms.

When a restraining order is issued, it is automatic that the offender shall be restrained from owning or possessing a firearm. This restriction is particularly burdensome to people with occupations that require the possession of handguns.

6) The loss of immigration status.

A conviction for domestic violence can result in the loss of a person's immigration status. This loss of immigration status will occur, even if a person convinces the court to allow him or her to withdraw a plea of guilty upon successful completion of an anger management program.

7) An increase in the amount of spousal support paid.

The occurrence of domestic violence in a relationship is one of many factors the court must consider when ordering spousal support. Consequently, a perpetrator of domestic violence is more likely to be ordered to pay additional spousal support.

8) The loss of the right to collect spousal support.

In California, a person who is found to have committed domestic violence may lose his or her opportunity to collect spousal support.

9) The loss of child custody or visitation rights.

A major factor the court must consider in determining custody and visitation rights is whether or not there has been domestic violence within the relationship. Courts are particularly sensitive to this issue when considering the best interests of the minor children.

10) An automatic extension to a foreign spouse and his or her children to remain within the country and an increased obligation to support them.

In cases where foreign spouses make allegations of domestic violence against their spouses who are sponsoring them, the foreign spouse will be granted an automatic extension to his or her right to remain within our country. When this happens, the sponsored spouse's obligation to support the foreign spouse and his or her children is also extended.

11) A civil lawsuit by the victim spouse.

Victims of domestic violence can file civil suit against their abusers. These lawsuits can result in awards of large compensatory and punitive damages.

12) An unequal division of property.

California law authorizes family law courts to award a spouse the other spouse's interest in community property as payment for any damages awarded to the victim spouse pursuant to a civil lawsuit judgment.

13) A crime of moral turpitude.

Domestic violence is considered a crime of moral turpitude. Consequently, when a person has a conviction for domestic violence on his or her record, his or her credibility can be called into question when testifying.

As one can see, the price paid for committing domestic violence, or in some cases, merely being accused of it, can be quite severe. How these consequences can affect personal relationships has yet to be seen.

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