When we talk about penalties for criminal convictions, we often focus on the immediate penalties. Jail time. Fines. Probation. Offenders may serve their penalties quickly after their sentencing, but the impact of their convictions do not end once these sentences are complete. Criminal convictions may impact your life for years to come.
Let’s zoom in on domestic violence crimes as an example. Domestic violence convictions have a variety of immediate penalties, including treatment programs, possible jail time, and the loss of the right to own firearms. However, even a domestic violence charge may have an impact for years to come – especially if the defendant is facing a divorce.
Minnesota Domestic Violence and Custody Disputes
Divorce settlements often put a lot of decisions in a judge’s hands, including alimony payments and child custody rights. If one parent has domestic violence crimes on their record, whether it involves their co-parent or not, the judge has to consider this when making their decision about child custody.
Domestic abuse is one of a handful of factors that Minnesota judges are instructed to consider when setting the terms for physical and legal custody (legal custody includes how parents can make big decisions about their child’s education, health, etc.). In the end, Minnesota judges put the best interests of the child as the central factor in all of their decision-making.
If domestic violence was committed between two parents involved in a divorce, Minnesota judges have to legally assume that joint custody is not in the child’s best interest. Basically, trying to get joint custody of your child when you have a record of domestic violence is an uphill battle.
Options for Minnesota Parents with Domestic Violence Records
That being said, if you have made mistakes in the past, or are currently facing domestic violence charges, you are not automatically banned from seeing or having custody of your child.
Fighting the Loss of Parental Rights
Minnesota gives defendants the opportunity to provide evidence that joint custody is in the child’s best interest. Recruit the help of a knowledgeable lawyer for more information on how you can make the case that you should still have physical or legal custody of your child.
Supervised Parenting Time
There are also alternatives to joint custody that you could fight for, including supervised parenting time. Either parent can suggest supervised parenting time. While this isn’t ideal, it is a step in the right direction toward joint custody. Remember, custody agreements can change over time.
Fighting Domestic Violence Charges
A charge is not a conviction. Your best option is to fight domestic violence charges before your divorce is settled. If you are facing domestic violence charges and a divorce, it’s time to get to work fighting these charges. An unresolved case could work in your partner’s case, so it is important to reach out to a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer immediately and start building your case.
In addition to the penalties given to domestic violence offenders, a conviction could potentially take away all of your parenting rights. Investing in a clean record is investing in your ability to legally be a parent to your child.
Domestic violence defenses include:
- False accusations
- Alibis for times and dates of specified abuse
Even if your domestic violence charges were dropped and you did not suffer a conviction, if can still hurt you in a custody battle. Luckily, you may be able to get your record expunged.
Expungement, also known as criminal record sealing, can help to “clean” your record and have an overall positive impact on your life. Misdemeanor domestic abuse charges may be able to be “wiped” from your record.
What all of this means is that domestic violence charges are even more important to fight if you are a parent and want to continue to be a part of your child’s life. You need an aggressive defense strategy, and you need to start implementing it as soon as possible. Doing so gives you the best chance at being the parent you want to be.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).