We have already discussed how a domestic violence conviction can prevent you from being able to possess a firearm and how felonies can prohibit you from entering the military without a wavier, but what what happens if you get a domestic violence charge while in the military? Unfortunately, the outlook for military careers isn’t good for those convicted of domestic abuse.
No Firearm Prohibition Exceptions for Soldiers
The firearms prohibition laws that affect those convicted of even misdemeanor domestic violence do not have exceptions for soldiers serving in the military, which means those convicted of the crime cannot ship, transport, possess or receive firearms or ammunition even while in the service. Most soldiers convicted of domestic violence will be discharged or separated because there are very few military jobs not requiring access to firearms or ammunition or training. Those convicted of felony domestic violence will usually be dishonorably discharged.
Domestic Violence Military Consequences
Any soldier with a misdemeanor domestic violence charge on their record will become non-deployable, denied leadership positions for roles requiring access to weapons or ammunition, not be permitted to attend service schools that require weapons training, and become ineligible for re-enlistment. In essence, while your military career will not always end immediately, in effect, it will still be over.
Victims Do Not Need to Consent to Prosecution
Even if your partner understands these consequences and refuses to press charges against you, if the charge is filed in San Diego, the DA will almost always press charges in domestic violence cases, regardless of how the victim wishes to proceed. You should always contact a domestic violence defense lawyer as soon as possible if you have been accused of abuse against your spouse or partner.
Your Pension and Other Benefits
On the upside, because a misdemeanor conviction will usually not result in a dishonorable discharge, you will still be eligible for your pension and other VA benefits you earned by having served in the military. As a result, it is still always better to face misdemeanor charges rather than felony domestic violence charges —aside from the obvious benefit of a shorter sentence.
In many cases, you may not be able to avoid charges altogether, but your lawyer may be able to have the charges reduced to a misdemeanor so you can retain your VA benefits and serve out the rest of your enlistment period.
Convicted for Domestic Violence and Want to be in the Military?
While the military is issuing more waivers to allow those with felonies into the service, they generally will not issue these waivers to those with domestic violence convictions on their records because these soldiers would be subject to all of the above restrictions. In other words, if you are found guilty of a domestic violence charge, you typically will not be able to join the military, even if your attorney can ensure you are only charged with a misdemeanor.
If you are in the military or have any interest in serving in the military and are accused of domestic violence, contact Peter M. Liss as soon as possible. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.