Domestic violence, officially called assault and battery on a family or household member (G.L. c. 265, §13M) carries severe penalties upon conviction. However, people may not wait until your case is settled before passing judgment on you. Friends may be distancing themselves from you, spouses may be badmouthing you to coworkers and relatives—all before you’ve had a chance to defend your actions.
A conviction for this serious crime will make it even more difficult to repair your personal and professional relationships. In fact, it could affect your job options and career path for the rest of your life.
How to Keep a Domestic Assault Charge From Ruining Your Career
While the accusation of domestic violence may raise suspicions, people tend to see a criminal conviction as conclusive evidence of a person’s guilt. The best way to minimize the effects of an assault charge is to avoid conviction or even have the charges dismissed outright.
Without a domestic violence defense attorney working to preserve your future, you may have difficulty:
- Keeping your current job. Even if you can return to work before your court date, you may need to take time off to attend court or meet with your attorney. Your employer could face public pressure to let you go, or see you as a potential risk to customers. If you’re convicted and serve jail time, your employer is under no obligation to keep your job open for you.
- Finding a new job. You may be required to report your criminal conviction on any job application you fill out in the future. While employers may be willing to overlook certain offenses, they are under no obligation to give you a chance and are likely to simply move on to other candidates. Even if you attempt to lie on a job application, your criminal record can be discovered with a simple background check—and lying on an application will almost certainly disqualify you from employment. You may be able to seal your record, which may prevent employers access to your CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information).
- Staying in your chosen field. People with an assault on their record are prohibited from working in many industries, including education and healthcare. A conviction may be career-ending for social workers, people who have public-facing jobs, or those who work with children.
- Maintaining licenses and certification. If your career requires you to maintain state and federal professional standards, you may lose your certification or have your license revoked after conviction. You could also lose your membership in professional agencies (such as boards of education) and peer organizations.
- Working in the armed forces. An assault conviction can lead to the loss of a government appointment, military job, or a position that requires a high-security clearance. If you are dishonorably discharged as a result of domestic assault, you may also be prohibited from reenlisting.
- Staying in a position of authority. Assault involving a family member is a crime that carries an enormous social stigma. Even if you do not lose your job, your coworkers and subordinates may not feel comfortable taking direction from you or working with you one-on-one.
- Changing career paths. You could attempt to go back to school to retrain for a new job, but college applications are given the same scrutiny as employment requests. Educational institutions are free to reject applicants with a criminal record.
- Traveling abroad. Criminal convictions can lead to international travel restrictions, barring you from taking any jobs that require travel or even visiting loved ones abroad.
It’s vital that your attorney has experience in domestic assault cases. You will need someone who can review the evidence, ask the right questions, and fight aggressively in court. If the charges against you cannot be dropped, your attorney should be willing to suggest treatment programs, probation, or other options to the court to keep your permanent record clean.