This is the fifth post in our series on domestic violence in Arkansas. Our last article discussed why false domestic violence allegations are common and what a person can do to protect themselves if they have been accused of a crime they did not commit. In this post, we will be discussing the legal ramifications of being convicted of a domestic violence charge. It is important for those who are charged to understand both the consequences of a conviction and the harsher penalties that can result in future ramifications.
Arkansas criminal penalties for domestic violence are more severe than those of many other states
The state of Arkansas has some of the harshest penalties for domestic abuse charges in the nation. Other states will not automatically charge a felony offense unless a person has been previously charged with domestic abuse 2-3 times within a certain time period. Arkansas will charge you with domestic battery in the third degree, a class A misdemeanor, if you cause any type of physical injury to a person you have a “domestic” relationship with. However, if you have been charged with domestic battery of any kind within five years, the second charge will automatically be upgraded to a Class D felony. As a practical matter, most Arkansas prosecutors will attempt to charge almost all domestic battery cases as felonies even though the law leaves room charge a person with a misdemeanor. The aggressive nature with which District Attorneys pursue these matters means that defendants in our state are facing a more severe situation than most.
Whenever someone is charged with a felony, there is risk of serious prison time. Class C and Class B felonies are punishable up to 10 and 20 years in prison, respectfully. In addition to these penalties, you may be facing restraining orders, the loss of child custody, loss of the right to carry a firearm, and the social stigma that goes with a domestic violence conviction. In other words, don’t think of your domestic violence charge as “something between two people.” It is something that will have a long lasting impact on your life.
Being convicted of domestic violence in Arkansas can lead to enhanced penalties in the future
As mentioned above, the penalties for domestic violence charges automatically enhance with each future charge. This means that a conviction today can lead to a future incident, no matter how minor, automatically being charged as a felony. Additionally, loss of the right to carry a firearm means that you would be charged with a federal crime in the event you are ever found carrying something such as a BB gun. In other words, one conviction today can impact the rest of your life in ways that do not foresee now. This is why it is important to contact a Little Rock criminal defense attorney immediately if you are charged with domestic violence in Arkansas.