MIlitary Personnel Charged with Domestic Violence

For members of our Armed Forces, being charged with a criminal offense involving an act of domestic violence is an extremely serious matter. If you are facing such charges, it is very important to consider seeking competent and reliable legal counsel.

A finding of domestic violence both by way of criminal conviction or by way of an Order of Protection under the New Mexico Family Violence Protection Act will have potential lifelong repercussions and consequences, some of which will be out-lined below. The impacts of a finding of domestic violence can be particularly dire for active duty members of our Armed Forces.

Collins & Collins is a long-established Albuquerque law firm with a significant experience in the practice of both criminal and family law. We take these matters very seriously as should you. We can be reached at (505) 242-5958.

Deployment-Related Issues Surrounding Military Domestic Violence

Domestic violence occurring among members of our Active Duty military presents a complex set of considerations and issues. Combat veterans are responsible, according to some sources, for 21% of domestic violence in the United States.

The causal links to deployment-related conditions and disorders, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), have been well-documented and are widely acknowledged by multiple sources, including the Department of Defense (DOD) and Veteran’s Administration (VA). Repeated tours of military personnel in combat-forward theaters of operation such as Iraq and Afghanistan greatly enhance the likelihood of the presence of such deployment-related conditions which in turn are predictors of domestic violence.

The possible presence of such factors present both challenges and opportunities to the defense of service members agianst domestic violence charges. There are many resources and programs in New Mexico courts to address these issues both for the service member and the family. Experienced legal counsel will identify and utilize each and every resource and program available to get the service member and the family through what is no doubt a very difficult time for all.

Most importantly, it is the goal to avoid the conviction or finding.  The consequences can be disastrous to both the service member and the family.  It takes some work and a lot of experience to both defend the service member and protect the family

Gun Rights and Domestic Violence

Of foremost consideration in a charge of domestic violence should be what is known as the Lautenberg Amendment. This was an Amendment to the 1968 Gun Control Act, which became Federal Law on September 30, 1996. The Lautenberg Amendment specified that no one convicted of an act of domestic violence—including misdemeanors—could ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms or ammunition.

For members of our Armed Forces this means that you would be unable to perform your duties as a soldier. While you may not be immediately discharged from the military you will surely not be considered for promotion and will also be barred from re-enlistment opportunities. The prohibitions on gun ownership/possession do not end at discharge, they are permanent and violations are charged as felonies under federal law.

Employment Consequences of a Finding of Domestic Violence

In addition to the Lautenberg consequences, you may also experience a wide range of future barriers to employment and professional licensure, including in the realms of law enforcement, security services and health care.

Beyond those professions that strictly prohibit employment of domestic violence offenders, many other employers simply will not hire a domestic violence offender. This is perfectly legal meaning the conviction can follow you the rest of your life in terms of employment opportunities in some unexpected places.

Seek Experienced Legal Counsel

These are serious charges with serious, long-term repercussions. You would be well-advised to consider securing experienced legal representation. It is typically a very bad idea to go this alone.

Unfortunately, this happens far too often. This is particularly true in civil cases for an order of protection filed in family court. Make no mistake, this is not a trivial matter. Many wrongfully assume that there is no harm, and may in fact be a preference for a little time apart. This could not be further from the truth as a finding of domestic abuse here has the same disastrous consequences  as a criminal conviction.

Seek legal counsel. We can be reached at (505) 242-5958.

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