Interviewer: What does someone’s future look like even if they had a dismissed domestic violence charge or an assault charge? Is that still going to be on their record?
Paul Geller: It is still going to be on their record. A lot of people have a misconception that if something is dismissed or even if they were convicted, they get what’s called an expungement that is now off the record, but it’s not. An expungement or a dismissal, because an expungement is a form of a dismissal, does not take away the fact that this person was arrested. That arrest, assuming it was an arrest, is still on the person’s record or rap sheet. So, the law enforcement will still see it.
Now, whether or not an employer can use that against the person, is a different question. If a complete and thorough background check were done, they would still see that there was an arrest there and it could be harmful and detrimental to their ability to find employment even though they have not been convicted. I mean, if you were to do a background check on someone and find that they have been arrested for something versus someone who had not been and all other things being equal, the person who had been arrested for some sort of felony or domestic violence is probably not the person that’s going to be hired for the job. So, that can be very damaging to someone when it comes to employment.
Additionally, for people working as representatives or teachers at various levels, being arrested for an offense like a battery or a domestic violence can have negative effects on a peer review, promotions, licensing with the state, etc. So, certainly that can have an effect on your employment even in an indirect way even if it’s not your direct employer, but with some licensing agency involving the state.
One other thing we haven’t brought up is the likelihood of protective orders and how that has an effect on a domestic violence situations. 9 times out of 10, even if the “Victim” opts not to have a protective order or an emergency protective order (to be precise, issued at the time of the incident–that’s generally something the police will offer and it’s good for 3 days), if the case is filed in criminal court, the prosecutors have made a determination that regardless of what the victim’s position is, they want a protective order in place for the benefit of the alleged victim whether or not the alleged victim actually wants it. This is sort of like a “We know better” type of position. So, the prosecutors will issue a stay-away. And if that involves where the person lives, that can become very problematic.
Having been arrested is so intimately intertwined in a person’s daily life, which can include their employment, that it really can create a problem. So, from future employment to current employment, from current living situation to a domestic violence arrest, in addition to public humiliation, it can really be devastating.
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