Impacts of Domestic Violence Charges on Government Employment

Colorado domestic violence charges have serious consequences, no matter who you are. But if you work for the government or the military, a conviction of a domestic violence crime can put your job at risk. Before accepting a plea agreement, you need to understand the impacts of domestic violence charges on government employment, and what any conviction will mean for your career.

Colorado Domestic Violence Charges Carry Severe Employment Consequences

In Colorado, domestic violence is a sentencing enhancement that increases the consequences for any criminal act or threat of violence toward a current or former spouse or dating partner. Domestic violence enhancements can connect to any crime – even property crimes related to the destruction of a romantic partner’s belongings – but the most common domestic violence charges include:

  • Assault

  • Stalking ( “Vonnie’s Law”)

  • Harassment

  • Sexual crimes (sexual assault, contact)

  • Violating a restraining order

While the criminal consequences depend on the underlying charge, a domestic violence charging enhancement can require you to complete a domestic violence treatment program, and result in an extended restraining order. It can also lengthen the period of incarceration and increase fines.

In addition, many employers are wary of hiring someone with a recent criminal conviction, including domestic violence charges. This is especially true if the job would give you access to vulnerable populations, such as children, disabled people, prisoners, or the elderly. Positions requiring professional licenses, like attorney or law enforcement jobs, may not be available at all.

Can You Work for the Federal Government with a Criminal Record?

Having a criminal record, even resulting in jail time, won’t automatically keep you from working for the federal government. People convicted of misdemeanors and certain felonies can still apply for and receive federal jobs. When a background check reveals a criminal conviction, the federal agency you are applying to will weigh your suitability for the position based on:

  • Your character and conduct

  • The nature, seriousness and circumstances of your criminal actions

  • How long ago the crimes occurred

  • Conflicts between your past criminal actions and the core job responsibilities

  • Interests of national security

  • Your efforts toward rehabilitation

However, there are some state and federal crimes that can cut you off from certain government positions. That includes domestic violence convictions. People convicted of even misdemeanor domestic violence crimes may not hold any federal government position requiring them to “ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms or ammunition.”

Will a Domestic Violence Conviction Hurt Your Military Career?

A conviction for a domestic violence crime can also hurt your military career. Many military positions require both the use of a firearm and security clearance. Criminal convictions for domestic violence can affect both of these. You must report any domestic violence charges when applying for the security clearance necessary to obtain many government or military jobs. This will make examiners look more closely at your background and character, and could cause you to be disqualified from receiving security clearance. Crimes related to dishonesty and those that make a person vulnerable to coercion can be especially hard to overcome.

In addition, Colorado law prohibits anyone facing a protective order due to domestic violence charges or those convicted of certain domestic violence crimes from owning or possessing guns. People charged with assault crimes of domestic violence must turn over their guns and ammunition within 24 hours of being charged (or released from custody). Federal law, too, bans possession of a firearm following a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. Many military and government jobs require you to be armed to serve. This means even a domestic violence charge, let alone conviction, could threaten your position and increase the chance of separation.

How to Protect Your Government Job When Faced with Domestic Violence Charges

If you have a government job, are in the military, or want a career in the federal government, domestic violence charges can put your career off track, sometimes permanently. You need to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Knowing that your career is on the line, your attorney may be able to negotiate the removal of the domestic violence enhancement, or prove that you were never in an intimate relationship with your roommate or friend to begin with. This can preserve your record and give you access to government jobs and the right to bear arms.

If your government employment, your service in this nation’s military, or your career prospects depend on your right to bear arms or ability to obtain security clearance, then you must take any domestic violence charge seriously. At Aviso Law, LLC, our criminal defense attorneys understand how federal and Colorado laws can interfere with your career plans, and what to do to keep you eligible for those positions. Our lawyers are here to serve you from the initial arrest, through dismissal or sentencing. We will help you identify your defenses, and your options so you can protect your government employment. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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