Upping the Ante – Collateral Consequences of a Family Violence Conviction
As we’ve discussed previously, a conviction for domestic or family violence in Texas comes with plenty of hazards with regards to the prosecution and punishment side of things. But there are a number of other consequences that can have a dramatic impact on your life if you find yourself convicted of a FV offense. To begin with, in many cases a magistrate will issue what is known as an Emergency Protection Order (or EPO) on the request of the complaining party or a peace officer. Generally, an EPO prohibits further violence against or communicating in a harassing or threatening manner with the complainant, but it may also include provisions that prevent you from going home or to your spouse’s place of employment or to your child’s school. An EPO will also prevent you from possessing a firearm, except if you are a full-time sworn peace officer. And violating this order is itself a separate and distinct class A offense for which you can be prosecuted.
If convicted, under federal law 18 USC § 922(g)(9), you may no longer own a gun. You can’t possess, ship or transport, or receive a firearm or ammunition. EVER. If you risk it and are found in possession of a firearm, you can be subject to federal penalties of a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison. A family violence offense will particularly stick out on background checks that are conducted by officers or employers. A FV conviction can also impact whether you are able to get or keep a professional license or are able to be bonded. And if you are in the United States on a temporary permit or illegally, a conviction can have serious immigration consequences, including but not limited to deportation, denial of naturalization or citizenship, and denial of re-entry. A FV conviction can also be used to enhance a new offense. For example, a conviction on one Class A Assault FV case means that the next charge for Assault FV will be “bumped up” to a 3rd degree felony. And adding a FV paragraph to a charge of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon makes that a 1st degree felony.
Short version – a FV “paragraph” or enhancement can seriously up the ante with regards to punishment and collateral consequences. Having an experienced attorney who can advise you as to these consequences and present an effective defense on your behalf is key to protecting your liberty and even your livelihood.