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What do domestic violence charges mean for a police officer?

Few jobs carry as heavy a burden as police work. Whether dealing with daily tasks or high profile and dangerous cases, officers need to be able to manage stress and to handle adversity. The job requires the ability to keep one's cool in the heat of the moment, on or off-duty. A violent criminal offense can kill a career.

Domestic violence is one of the most common charges in the country. The physical or emotional abuse of one's partner is a serious criminal act. Besides being a widespread issue, it's also a common false accusation made to defame an ex. Domestic violence is a serious charge for anyone, but for officers of the law, it comes with major implications for your career. Domestic violence charges can cost your right to carry a firearm which, in turn, costs your job as a police officer.

A closer look at allegations

Misinterpretation of an act, such as restraining a partner from harm, is one common false accusation. Another issue is the sticky definition of abuse. Throwing objects and using profane language can fall on either side of the definition. In short, context matters.

A few examples of false accusations include:

  • Self-defense
  • Restraining someone from hurting themselves
  • Unintentionally blocking an exit
  • Automatic reactions, such as during a nightmare
  • Verbal arguments (depending on what is said)
  • Retaliation or revenge

Retaliation is a much publicized angle, where a former spouse files false charges to sabotage a custody or divorce case, or for another personal reason.

A closer look at legal defense

There are numerous legal strategies when facing allegations. Witnesses and factual consistencies are important for your defense. When a claim stems out of retaliation, challenging the motives is often an effective strategy.

Whatever your particular case, it's essential to work with an attorney on your defense. Your job may be on the line. Whether you refute claims or seek deferred judgment, there are ways to defend against the charges in a way that will protect your career.

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