The incredible stress of 2020 – from the pandemic itself, to lockdowns, job insecurity, children unable to attend school, and the countless other ways that everyday life has changed – has contributed to an increased number of people being charged with domestic violence offenses. Many such defendants are first-time offenders, accused of lower-level misdemeanor charges, brought out of overwhelming circumstances brought on the pandemic that have caused otherwise stable relationships to devolve.
Because a domestic violence charge requires an arrest, the first question on most people’s mind after spending a night in jail and being released is not how the charge will affect them long term, but on the immediate future: will I have to go back to jail?
The good news is that in most cases, low-level first-time offenders will be given a chance at a plea bargain that involves treatment and supervision, but likely not a jail sentence. But for many professionals, such a plea bargain may also be a career killer. Doctors, lawyers, nurses, social workers, teachers and private investigator, to name just a few, all are subject to professional licensing regulations that may be violated with a domestic violence conviction.
Figuring out a resolution to a case that takes into consideration both of these goals requires experienced counsel who can both navigate the criminal proceedings and advise as to the career implications of any plea. Often plea agreements can be structured in a way that takes professional licensing into consideration and thereby avoid convictions that would have mandatory licensing action.
In circumstances where licensing action cannot be avoided, mitigating circumstances may allow a licensee to receive an admonition, fine, or probationary period from the licensing board but continue to work.
If you are a professional and facing domestic violence charges, it is important to retain an attorney who understands the importance of your career and the need to negotiate an outcome that takes licensing into consideration.