Domestic Violence In Your Past? You May Face Problems In The Future
Domestic violence is a very serious offense, but like any other person convicted of a crime, you deserve a chance to start fresh upon serving your sentence. However, domestic violence is considered to be such a serious crime that having a conviction on your record can stay with you long after any debt to society has been repaid. Recently, Amendment 4 advocate Desmond Meade was denied a full pardon and restoration of his civil rights due to convictions for domestic violence and other offenses. While this may be legally appropriate, there is an argument to be made that it is unjust.
Mr. Meade’s right to vote was restored by the passage of Florida’s Amendment 4, which allowed former felons who have completed their sentences, except for those with murder or felony sexual assault convictions. However, he seeks a full pardon out of a wish to be ‘made whole,’ wanting to exercise rights like serving on a jury or owning a firearm. A state panel denied his request, with Governor Ron DeSantis and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis raising questions about Meade’s dishonorable discharge and past domestic violence convictions against his ex-wife and brother.
Patronis characterized domestic violence as a “non-starter with [him],” though he said that forgiveness would make a difference. Mr. Meade’s brother is deceased, and his ex-wife has supported his efforts – but DeSantis still expressed a wish to see more ‘information,’ despite Meade’s records being public, saying that the clemency board would require more information. The clemency board, however, had a 24,000-case backlog as of August 2020, with a timeline on pardons not forthcoming. Meade criticized the process as “very arbitrary,” citing a wish to move on with life.
The Stigma Is Real
One only has to examine Patronis and DeSantis’ comments to see the way a domestic violence conviction is perceived, even after the sentence has been served. Certain crimes carry stigma that may persist, and domestic violence is one of them. That conviction can prevent a person from getting certain jobs, especially in the public sector, but certain industries in the private sector refuse employment for those with criminal records – for example, childcare or handling any kind of dangerous tool or material.
One of the most serious consequences of a domestic violence conviction for a parent is an immediate rebuttable presumption in any custody case that having a relationship with their children would not be in those children’s best interests. In other words, if you have been convicted of domestic violence, the court will assume that your children should not have a relationship with you. You can disprove this presumption with sufficient evidence, but it is difficult, and many times, parents lose their rights to see their children, because the state does not see them as sufficiently rehabilitated.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
While it remains to be seen what will be the ultimate fate of Mr. Meade’s request, if you are facing domestic violence charges, it is crucial that you enlist a dedicated West Palm Beach criminal attorney to help with your case. The firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. has experience in these areas and can work with you to help ensure your rights are protected. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.