Domestic Violence Charges: What You Need to Know

Domestic violence now is one of the most commonly charged types of crimes in the United States. Arguments between spouses, household members, parents, children, and romantic partners (or even casual partners) can result in charges related to domestic violence.

Domestic violence charges are always coupled with another underlining crime, such as assault, criminal damage, disorderly conduct, endangerment, threats & intimidation, and other common offenses.

Even when the charge is a misdemeanor, domestic violence can have serious consequences, sometimes hidden, for many people.

You can read more about the consequences of domestic violence here

Weapons Possession

If a person is charged with domestic violence, he is often forbidden by the judge presiding over the case to possess a weapon during the pendency of the case. Moreover, during any period of probation, the person is often also not allowed to possess a weapon. Most importantly, under federal law 18 U.S.C. § 924, a person who is convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence is a prohibited possessor. These restrictions greatly affect many Americans who use and possess firearms for recreation, protection, or as part of employment.

As an example, I have represented many Border Patrol agents who have been charged with misdemeanor domestic violence offenses. Upon arrest, they immediately lose their ability to carry a weapon. They may lose their jobs and their careers over a misdemeanor. For them, a misdemeanor domestic violence charge is a very serious offense.

Orders of Protection & Weapons Possession

Many times in domestic violence cases, victims may file for orders of protection, even if they don’t request criminal charges. It is important to remember that the order of protection is a separate legal proceeding, which carries its own consequences. Even if the domestic violence criminal charges are dismissed, but the order of protection stands, and when challenged, under certain circumstances it – by itself – can cause a person to lose his right to possess a firearm. This means, as amazing as it sounds, a person can lose his or her right to possess firearms even if criminal charges are dismissed or never filed, so long as the order of protection is filed, challenged, and upheld. A person should consult an attorney anytime an order of protection is filed.

Stigma of Domestic Violence Conviction & its Effect on Professional Careers

Domestic violence, even when the charge is a misdemeanor, can have significant additional effects on careers. A person may be separated from the military for domestic violence offenses. Moreover, many licensed professionals, such as school teachers, nurses, doctors, and others, may encounter licensing restrictions or problems based on misdemeanor domestic violence charges or convictions. Remember, many licensed professionals have a duty to report the domestic violence charges to their licensing Boards and/or employers, even if they are dismissed. Many licensing and regulatory boards conduct their own investigations while the criminal case is pending and may mete out discipline even if the charges are dismissed.

It is, therefore, important not to overlook the seriousness of any domestic violence-related charge. A person should contact a qualified and experienced attorney with a particular familiarity with domestic violence charges and procedures. I hope this helps.

Michael A. Harwin is an attorney licensed in Arizona and Colorado practicing criminal defense, with extensive trial experience. A noted speaker and author of several publications, he has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America, U.S. News & World Report, Arizona Superlawyers, Tucson Lifestyle Magazine, National Trial Lawyers Top 100, and the Litigation Counsel of America.

You can connect with Michael on Twitter (@michael_harwin), and you can reach him by email at

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About Michael Harwin

Michael’s skill and experience have been recognized repeatedly. He holds an A-V 5/5 preeminent rating by Martindale Hubbell. He has been named one of the top lawyers in Arizona by Southwest Superlawyers, and one of the best lawyers in Tucson by Tucson Lifestyle Magazine. He also has been named one of the best lawyers in the United States by , and given the highest rating possible by AVVO, 10/10 Superb.
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