Why Domestic Violence Charges Are Challenging for Military Personnel
Domestic violence for civilians is bad enough, but as a member of the U.S. Military, an accusation of domestic violence can change your career forever. Sadly, domestic violence is common among military families, especially for those suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If you are a member of the U.S. military, and you have been accused of domestic violence, now is the time to act. You need to hire a defense team that has experience handling domestic violence accusations against service members before it impacts your career.
On-Base Acts versus Off-Base Acts
Whether you are stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base or another military installation in New Mexico, where the alleged violence occurs determines how your case plays out and which laws apply.
On-Base Domestic Violence Cases Fall under the UCMJ
If domestic violence allegations involve an on-base premise, then the case falls under the military authority’s jurisdiction, which uses the Military Justice System Uniform Code of Military Justice. In some instances, on-base acts will fall under a Family Advocacy Program, but it depends on any local agreements on base with civilian law enforcement to decide which applies to your case.
Off-Base Domestic Violence Cases Fall under Civilian Law
If the alleged domestic violence occurs off-base at your private residence, then the jurisdiction where it occurred would oversee the charges and case itself. That means you would be subject to all applicable New Mexico assault and battery consequences.
In New Mexico, there is not a specific charge of “domestic violence,” and instead, it is assault or battery – depending on the type of alleged abuse that occurs.
Committing an Assault against a Family Member
You are charged with assault against a family member when you attempt to commit harmful acts, threatened, or menaced that loved one. It is important for you to understand this, because you do not have to physically attack a household member to be charged with domestic violence related assault. Instead, the threat of doing serious harm to the victim is all that is required to charge you with assault under New Mexico Code Section 3-3-12.
Committing Battery against a Family Member
Battery accusations against a family member means that you have physically touched, harmed, or attacked a family member. Battery is more serious than assault, because you have physically harmed that person instead of threatening to harm them.
The Long-Term Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction While in the Military
Do not discount the severity of domestic violence accusations, especially as an active military member. Whether you are facing military or civilian courts, the punishment can be severe – and it goes well past just spending some time in jail, having a restraining order against you, or paying fines.
Just some of the long-term consequences that you could face, if convicted, include:
- Losing custody of any minor children you may have. If you are convicted of assault or battery, you may lose custody of minor children in your care. Whether it is a spouse accusing you of assault or another household member, the courts do not take these accusations lightly and they may grant temporary or permanent custody to another parent.
- You could be forcefully removed from your home, even though it is in your name. If a spouse accuses you of domestic violence and is granted a restraining order (also referred to as a protective order), you may be forcefully removed from your own home – even if it is in your name and you pay for it. You will be unable to approach your home and family for the duration of the restraining order – which may be temporary or permanent, depending on the outcome of your case.
- You will lose your military rank and ability to serve. If you are convicted, you can no longer serve in the U.S. military. Therefore, any work you have put into earning your rank and establishing your tenure will be gone, and you may miss out on critical retirement benefits that require you to serve actively for so many years.
- You will be unable to bear firearms. While it is a right to bear arms in the United States, if you are convicted of an act of domestic violence, the Lautenberg Amendment prohibits you from doing so. You will be unable to own, possess, purchase, or bear a firearm for the rest of your life after you are convicted.
- You may lose any professional licenses or certifications, which could affect your career choices outside of the military. Since you will be unable to serve in the military, you will receive a discharge (most likely a dishonorable one), and you will need to find work as a civilian. If you had a career in the military that requires a license or certification in the civilian sector, you may find you are unable to continue with that career path. Some certifications and professions do not allow those convicted of domestic violence to obtain a license or certification.
Protect Yourself from the Long-Term, Harmful Consequences of Domestic Violence Accusations Now
If you are accused of domestic violence, whether you are active duty or not, now is the time to talk with a defense attorney. You need someone who has experience handling domestic violence cases and who knows the true stakes at hand.
A conviction will change your life permanently, and you cannot risk that. Instead, speak with an attorney from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today. We can help you get the best possible outcome in your case, and we fight aggressively against false allegations of domestic abuse.
To explore your legal options, or to get started on a defense strategy, contact our team for a free case evaluation. Have questions? Ask our legal team online by completing the online contact form, and someone will be in touch shortly.