If you ever find yourself facing domestic violence charges, you most likely will feel frightened and overwhelmed about how a conviction on those can change your life. Will you have to serve jail time? Will a conviction show up on background checks for employment or threaten your current employment? What about your relationship with the victim? How will that change?

All these are important questions, but you need to make some initial decisions that are very important once you are released from custody or are charged. Here are some of the issues you need to deal with:

Working with an attorney

Your first step should be to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney, right after being charged or being released from custody. A criminal defense attorney can advise you about your rights, review the evidence in the case and possibly get your charges reduced to assault or dismissed.

Yes, you pay for an attorney’s services, but going through this on your own or with a court-appointed attorney isn’t ideal. You want to work with someone committed to bringing your best defense against the charges and minimizing how a conviction will impact your life.

Following the no-contact/restraining order

Most likely, you will have a no-contact order or a restraining order placed on you by the victim or the law enforcement agency that filed charges against you if the charges aren’t dropped quickly. You must follow those orders completely or you will face tougher legal consequences.

Sometimes, a victim decides not to press charges, but that order could remain in effect for a while. Also, the rules around no-contact orders or restraining orders are very specific. Your attorney can explain to you best on how to avoid violating them.

Facing court

If your case ends up in court, your attorney is hired to be your advocate – to fight to get you the best resolution. Your attorney can have you complete a domestic violence training to show that you are serious about understanding how to avoid being in this situation again.

Facing domestic violence charges can be very frightening. With a good defense lawyer, you will have the support you need as you move forward.