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If you are facing charges of domestic violence, you may not be aware of the full range of consequences that can result from a conviction. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help mitigate the damage of a domestic violence charge and the penalties you face.

Consequences for Employment

Any employer may look unfavorably upon a domestic violence conviction. However, certain fields are particularly sensitive to the criminal records of their employees.

In Pennsylvania, education statutes require criminal history reporting by all employees of public and private schools. The statutes also list specific crimes that prohibit school employment. Crimes that are not listed can still prevent an employee from getting a fingerprint clearance card. Due to the sensitive nature of domestic violence, educational employers are particularly sensitive to even misdemeanor offenses.

Law enforcement officers are also highly likely to be made unemployable by a domestic violence conviction. This is due to the federal Brady Act, which became effective across the U.S. in 1994. The Brady Act:

  • Prevents gun ownership by anyone who has been convicted of an act of domestic violence.
  •  Defines “Domestic violence” It does not rely upon a state’s classification of a crime.
  • Applies to both misdemeanors and felonies.
  • Imposes the ban for life.
  • Cannot be expunged, reversed, or otherwise challenged.

As a result, a law enforcement officer who pleads guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence-related assault can permanently lose his or her gun rights, creating ineligibility for most law enforcement positions.

Restraining Orders

Pennsylvania law provides for a victim of abuse to ask a court to issue a restraining order (called a Protection From Abuse order). The petition filed by the victim, and any orders issued by the court, become part of the public record (except information about any juvenile parties to the proceeding).

It is important to understand that a Protection From Abuse is separate from your pending criminal case. A judge can issue a PFA regardless of the state of your criminal charges – even if you are eventually acquitted. If you believe that a PFA has been wrongfully issued against you, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your options for challenging the order.

Child Custody

Domestic violence is a heated issue in child custody which family court judges take very seriously. Because child custody is such an emotional and turbulent issue, it can lead to an unfortunate number of false (or exaggerated) reports of domestic violence. It is important that your criminal record accurately reflect the facts of the case before you fight for custody of your children.

Contact an Experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you have been charged with any act of domestic violence, contact the Zeiger Firm today.  Call (215) 546-0340 to schedule your consultation with attorney Brian Zeiger. The consequences of a domestic violence conviction are far-reaching and long-lasting. Make sure you have an attorney advising you during this difficult time, which can affect your life for years to come.

Brian J. Zeiger, Esquire, is an experienced and successful criminal defense and civil rights attorney. He is a seasoned trial lawyer with significant experience before juries and judges. Brian understands civil rights cases, including Taser, Wrongful Death, Excessive Force, Police Brutality, Police Misconduct, Malicious Prosecution, Monell Claims, Sexual Assault, Prisoner’s Rights, Time Credit, Medical Malpractice, and Medical Indifference.