What are the penalties for a domestic violence conviction?

This is a post on consequences of a domestic violence conviction. This post focuses on the penalties for such a conviction.

What happens if I am not a U.S. citizen?

A person charged with domestic violence who is not a United States citizen can face serious penalties. Deportation is required by federal law even if the case ends in probation or deferred adjudication. Re-entry into the United States will probably be denied after arrest, even if the case has not gone to trial.

Who would have access to my record?

The records will be available for anyone with access at the courthouse or over the Internet. Even a deferred adjudication case will be discoverable to any person. Present or future employers will have access to domestic violence records.

If I successfully complete deferred sentencing or adjudication can I get the records sealed?

Deferred sentences or adjudication for domestic violence cannot be expunged or have the records sealed. It will be a permanent record even though a formal conviction is not entered Tex. Govt. Code § 411.081.

Can I own or possess a firearm?

No! Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9) (the Lautenberg amendment) anyone “who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” can never own, possess, or be in the vicinity of a weapon or ammunition again.

The federal law has no time limitation to it. The permanent loss of the right to possess a firearm, weapon, or ammunition applies whether the case ends in a conviction, probation, or deferred adjudication and that includes any form of plea bargain.

Can I get a national security clearance if I am convicted or enter a plea?

No! And you will lose any existing security clearance you hold.

 If placed on community supervision, will I have to attend counseling?

A person on community supervision for domestic violence will be required to attend a year long Battering Intervention Prevention Program counseling course. The average defendant is required to attend once a week for a fifty-two (52) week period. Failure to attend, or missing too many meetings will result in revocation of the community supervision and placement in jail. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 42.141.

Can I attend counseling of my own choosing?

The defendant does not get to select a counseling program. This program will be set up in advance and the defendant will be required to attend. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 42.141.

What are typical probation/deferred conditions for domestic violence cases?

The defendant is responsible for all costs of counseling and probation. Typical conditions of Community Supervision include Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 42.141:

  • Fines;
  • Court Costs;
  • Victim Impact Panels;
  • Counseling for Victim;
  • Contributions to Women’s Domestic Violence Shelters;
  • Weekly Batterers Intervention Prevention Program Counseling;
  • Alcohol Evaluation and Treatment;
  • Anger Management Counseling;
  • Monthly Probation Fees;
  • No Contact With Victim;
  • Random Urinalysis Testing;
  • Monthly Reporting To Probation Officer;
  • Community Service;
  • Electronic Location Monitoring Bracelet; and
  • Other Conditions the Judge Finds to Be Reasonable.

A domestic violence conviction will result in a finding of family violence!

If the defendant enters a plea bargain of any kind, or is found guilty, the trial court must make an affirmative finding of family violence and enter the affirmative finding in the judgment. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 42.013.

 What does it mean to have a family violence finding?

A plea of either guilty or no contest will result in a family violence finding even if the sentence is deferred. A finding of family violence can have drastic consequences for a parent facing a child custody or modification case. There probably will be a presumption that the accused is not a fit parent.

The trial court judge must notify family court of a family violence finding.

The trial court judge must notify the family court judge if the defendant was found guilty, or pled guilty or no contest to a domestic violence offense. This must be done even if the defendant is placed on deferred adjudication or given a deferred sentence. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 42.23 . “Notification of Court of Family Violence Conviction”.

A final protective order can be entered against a person found to have committed domestic violence…

A family court judge may enter a final protective order against a person found guilty or pled guilty or no contest to a domestic violence offense. This can be done even if the defendant is placed on deferred adjudication Tex. Fam. Code § 85.022“Requirements of Order Applying to Person Who Committed Family Violence”.

What are the possible penalties for a conviction?

In Texas, the accused faces up to a $4,000 fine for a conviction, whether by a plea or a finding of guilt at trial. The accused may be incarcerated for up to one year in the county jail upon conviction, whether by a plea or a finding of guilt at trial.

If the accused has a prior conviction for family violence, a second charge will be prosecuted as a third degree felony offense, carrying a range of punishment of not less than two (2) years or more than ten (10) years in the penitentiary and a fine up to $10,000. Tex. Pen. Code. § 12.21; § 12.34.

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