First Time Charge For Domestic Battering Or Assault In Arkansas – What Happens?

Even if you’ve never been in trouble before, a charge for domestic battering or assault on a family or household member is a serious offense. A misdemeanor conviction could land you in jail, force you to move out of your home or prevent you from contacting family members. It will also put you one step away from a felony.

It Does Not Work Like That

Many people think they can plead guilty to a misdemeanor, pay a fine and put the past behind them. That may be the case with a traffic ticket, but we talk to people all the time that think a domestic batter case will be dropped because:

  1. The victim does not want a conviction.
  2. The victim was also charged.
  3. There were no serious injuries.
  4. It was just a misunderstanding.
  5. There weren’t any witnesses.

It might not make sense to you, but there is another victim in the case. The victim that decides your fate is the State of Arkansas. The crime is against the State, the prosecutor works for the State and has the power to subpoena the alleged victim to court.

If your case moves forward, the alleged victim cannot stop your prosecution or determine your sentence. There probably an order of protection in place, so you can’t discuss things with them anyway, unless you want additional charges.

You need an experienced criminal defense attorney that knows how to work these cases.

My Case Is Different

Arkansas is in the top 20 states with the highest rate of domestic violence against women and in the top 10 in domestic violence against men. Arkansas prosecutors and judges take ALL domestic abuse cases seriously.

Do not accept a plea without consulting an attorney.

Because Arkansas has such a high rate of domestic abuse, your prosecutor has heard  “this was just a misunderstanding” or “not a big deal” hundreds, if not thousands of times.

Even if your case is unique and you are correct, you do not need to make this argument on your own. The stakes are too high.

Unemployment, Gun Rights And Other Issues

The judge might sentence you to jail, fines, probation, community service, counseling classes and/or issue an order of protection. However, the long-term problems with a misdemeanor conviction may include:

  1. Losing your job. Caretakers, teachers and many others are at risk.
  2. Losing a professional license or your eligibility to get one.
  3. If an order of protection is issued, the court will inform you that federal law prohibits possession of firearms.
  4. Many employers cannot or will not hire you.
  5. Domestic Battering third degree is a felony if you committed certain misdemeanors or felonies in the last 5 years.
  6. Domestic Battering third degree is a felony if you committed two (2) or more offenses of battery against a family or household member as defined by a law of this state or by an equivalent law of any other state or foreign jurisdiction within ten (10) years of the offense of domestic battering in the third degree.
  7. You must wait 5 years to seal a misdemeanor conviction for Domestic Battering third degree (instead of 60 days).

 

There is no simple domestic battering or assault case. Even misdemeanor charges can have serious long-term impact. Hire an attorney experienced in domestic violence criminal cases.

 

Under Arkansas law, you can be sentenced to probation to avoid going to jail. If you are on probation, you want to make sure that you do everything you can to avoid a probation revocation. As you probably know, your probation can be revoked for many reasons, including failing drug tests, missing appointments with your probation officer, failure to complete treatment programs, or picking up a new criminal charge.

 

Staying Out of Prison When You Are Revocated

Arkansas passed a new law (Act 423) that lists many violations that may keep you out of prison (ADC), limit jail time for probation and parole violations or allow entry to a Technical Violator Program. The state wants to reduce the number of people sent to prison (an Arkansas Department of Corrections penitentiary).

  1. If you commit technical violations you are eligible for administrative sanctions and do not have to go to prison.
  2. Not all prosecutors, judges or probation officers are aware of the administrative sanctions.
  3. Not all prosecutors, judges or probation officers use them when available or when they are the best option!

 

You need a defense lawyer that understands Arkansas’s new options to keep you out of prison or serving long jail sentences when you face revocation.

How Do Technical Violations Prevent Revocation and Prison

You can get sanctions for violations of probation or parole supervision if your charge is one listed in the new guide.

    1. Sanctions are served at a Technical Violator Program or county jail
    2. Minor violations can be up to 90 day
    3. Serious violations can be up to 180 days
    4. This time counts towards your overall sentence.

 

  • Your time can be cut in half for good time

 

How Many Times Can I Avoid Prison?

  1. You can receive up to six sanctions to county jail or a residential facility before a full revocation requires ADC prison time.
  2. After two violations you can be eligible for full revocation.

 

When a Revocation or Revo is Started How Do I Know If Sanctions Are Available?

  1. If your probation officer understands the new rules, they should consider them before a revocation hearing is set.
  2. Once your probation officer decides to pursue a revocation, he or she will file a Petition for Revocation with the court. At that point, the court must hold a hearing on the petition for revocation within 60 days.

There are a few things you need to know about this hearing:

  1. The court will tend to side with the probation officer.
  2. The State does not need to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the standard in a probation revocation is a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is much easier to meet.
  3. You can be represented by an attorney at your probation revocation hearing.

You need a defense lawyer that understands when the new technical sanctions are available, when the revocation hearing can be avoided, and how to avoid a revocation at your hearing.  Your lawyer must be able to explain the new, technical violations to the judge, prosecutor and parole/probation officer.

 

During a recent revocation hearing, one of our defense attorneys had to explain

  1. That the new rules exist.
  2. That they were REQUIRED to be followed based on the facts of the case.

A revocation was avoided, and a technical violation was issued.  By hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, you might avoid going to prison or having a revocation on your record.

 

There are over 2,000 people who enter the Arkansas Department of Corrections each year because of a probation revocation. It is very important that you take it seriously or you may end up in jail, even for a little slip-up.

 

I Thought Arkansas Was Trying to Limit Prison Overcrowding?

The state of Arkansas wants to reduce the number of people going to prison by parole revocation.  This does not mean your judge, prosecutor or probation/parole office is aware of alternatives or uses them.

 

Having an attorney to handle your probation revocation gives you a huge advantage. Our lawyers know when to explain that your charge should be treated with sanctions, NOT with a parole revocation hearing.  

 

What if I Can’t Get the New Sanctions?

 

Your criminal defense lawyer will be able to cross-examine the probation officer. If the PO just has it out for you, the lawyer can make this very clear to the judge.

 

A criminal defense lawyer will also be able to bring in other evidence of how you are doing. For instance, if you missed an appointment with your PO because you were doing something else that is productive, the lawyer can also make sure the judge hears this. You may have factors that make you look better to the judge and make your slip-up less of an issue.

 

A criminal defense lawyer also may be able to strike a deal with the prosecutor if your case doesn’t look good. As we all know, there are too many prisoners and not enough prisons. Ultimately, a prosecutor doesn’t really want to put someone behind bars who doesn’t belong there. A good lawyer will be much better able to negotiate and strike a bargain than you will.  Maybe your charge can be amended to fit one of the new sanctions.

If you are facing a probation revocation and have questions, please contact us. It is a serious matter and you need to know exactly what you’re up against.  You may be eligible for sanctions and the revocation can’t move forward. If the sanctions aren’t an option and you are getting a revo, you need an attorney that understands ALL of your options.  

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How do I get supervised visitation in Arkansas?

A frequent request from clients during divorce or child custody cases is “How do I get supervised visitation?”  What they are really asking is “How do I get the judge to make my ex have supervised visitation?” This is a common request, but the fact is that supervised visitation is an exception, not the rule.  It requires specific facts that must be proven, and they must be bad enough to outweigh the public desire to keep children and parents together. Strong emotions, bad feelings, dislike and concern, alone, are not enough.

How Does Arkansas Determine Visitation?

Arkansas courts favor preserving the parent-child relationship and will maintain a custody and visitation schedule that does not involve supervision, if possible.  Prior to coming to court, it is unlikely that one parent was only allowed around the child(ren) when another adult was present to supervise. Why should the judge change that without a clear showing that there is NOW a need for supervision?  

The standard for the judge is based on the welfare and best interest of the child.  A child’s best interests are based on many factors concerning parents and the safety and well-being of the child (see below).

10 Factors To Determine The Best Interests of The Child

  1. Psychological relationship between the parents and the child
  2. Need for stability and continuity in the child's relationship with parents
  3. Need for stability and continuity in child's relationship with siblings and other family
  4. Past conduct of the parents toward the child
  5. The reasonable preference of the child (if the child is old enough to explain)
  6. Assuring frequent and continuing contact between the child and both parents.
  7. Did the child suffer physical injury or personally witness abuse (domestic violence)?
  8. Does the child have special needs and how does each parent take care of those needs?
  9. Mental and physical health of the parents
  10. Each parent’s willingness to support the child’s relationship with the other parent

The factors above are just examples and a judge will look at the facts and circumstances of each case.  In every case, a factor may be given more or less weight than the others. With that in mind, below are examples where Arkansas courts have found reason to require supervised visitation.

10 Reasons For Supervised Visitation In Arkansas

  1. Domestic violence
  2. Child abuse or maltreatment
  3. Mental illness of the parent
  4. Sex offenses or sexual abuse
  5. Drug or alcohol abuse
  6. Extended absences between the parent and child
  7. Newly established paternity
  8. Homelessness or unsafe housing
  9. Irresponsible behavior with alcohol and firearms
  10. A parent holding foreign citizenship threatening abduction

Everyone can agree the items above can be reasons for concern about the interaction between any adult and child, even a parent.  But just one of them alone may not be sufficient, if the factor does not directly impact the child.  Again, it is a balancing act.

Finally, here are 10 things that just aren’t sufficient, on their own, to justify supervised visitation:

10 Things That Don’t Cause Supervised Visitation

  1. The other parent is responsible for the divorce (fault doesn’t matter).
  2. You don’t like the other parent’s girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse.
  3. You can’t stand the other parent and can’t get along with them.
  4. Payback.  This is common and sets the stage for years of grief.  Learn to get along for the sake of the child(ren).
  5. Former in-laws or grandparents that you don’t like or do not want around your kids.
  6. Concern that the other parent won’t help with homework, won’t keep the same schedule or allows too much time on YouTube.
  7. A criminal record.  Is it relevant to the child? Maybe.
  8. The other parent doesn’t provide hourly updates when they have the child.
  9. The other parent won’t let you talk to the child around-the-clock.  Regular calls with an 8 year old at 11 PM on a school night? No.
  10. The other parent took the child somewhere and didn’t inform you exactly when and how you wanted.

You may be more confused than you were when you started reading this.  We understand that these situations can be very confusing, and we are happy to help you work through any issues you may have concerning visitation.  If you have questions about child custody, visitation or supervised visitation, give us a call today and we can schedule your free consultation.

probationWe all know police need probable cause to conduct a search of your vehicle and a warrant to conduct a search of your home. Well, they usually do, anyway. If you are on probation or parole in Arkansas, however, you have probably waived these requirements and given written consent for law enforcement to search your home or car at any time without a warrant. If this sounds scary, it is. It may not be as scary as prison, but it's scary.

In exchange for not being incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, many people are given the option for probation. (For more information about some specifics about probation in Arkansas, click here or here.) When someone is placed on probation in Arkansas, they must abide by certain conditions. One of these conditions is that you agree to allow your car or home to be searched without probable cause and without a warrant.

This means that the police no longer need probable cause to search you or your vehicle, and they do not need a warrant to search your home. During the time you’re on probation, you have basically waived your right to any protection under the 4th Amendment. If you think it's strange that you can actually waive your right to protections in the Constitution, you're not alone: It is strange.

In normal circumstances, if police have a lead or hunch that some type of illegal contraband is within a person’s home, they would need to gather evidence and present that evidence to an Arkansas judge. The judge would then issue a warrant if he or she believes that probable cause exists. With a search waiver, police just need to decide what time they would like to stop by and take a look inside your home. You might as well give them your car keys and house keys.

The good news is that even if you have signed a search waiver, you have certain defenses against police abuse of that waiver. An Arkansas Criminal Defense Lawyer can walk you through the steps to know whether you can fight the search.

If you feel you or your property was unlawfully searched, even if you are on probation, give us a call today to speak about your case and any possible defenses you may have.

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Inmate Medical and Mental Health Care Rights

 

nursing drug testNurses and Lawyers have (at least) one thing in common: We both had to work really, really hard for our licenses. Lots of classes and lots of tests and then one big test (NCLEX!) and finally—Ah, finally!—the nurse gets the right to wear the scrubs and the lawyer gets the right to wear the suit.

So now that we have our license, it’s important that we keep it, right? In Arkansas, nurses are subject to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. A nurse can get in hot water with the Board for many reasons, including positive drug tests, discrepancies with unwanted or unused drugs, falsifying medical records, failure to keep adequate records, failure to complete continuing education hours, etc.

One of the most frequent issues is the positive nursing drug test. The reason for the drug test itself is often just a co-worker or unsatisfied patient (or disgruntled girlfriend/boyfriend) that wants to cause problems for the nurse. Most often, the nurse shows up for work and is unimpaired but has drugs in his or her system. (So, for instance, the nurse has used drugs sometime in the past several days when he or she was not at work or on call.)

Upon arriving at work, he or she is required to take a nursing drug test.

What happens next can strongly impact the next steps an Arkansas nurse must take. (For more information about grounds for nursing discipline, go here.) If a nurse does fail a drug test, he or she will likely lose their job. If you fail the test, your employer will now report your failed drug test to the Arkansas State Nursing Board. However, depending on the circumstances, the nurse may want to self report the violation to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing.

Once you are reported to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing for a positive drug test, you will likely receive a letter asking you to surrender your nursing license for a period of one year. At the end of that year, you may re-apply and will likely be put on some form of probation, which may require call-ins to see if you have been selected to be drug tested that day, along with reports by you and performance evaluations by your new employer (if you can find one).

In most situations, you will not want to surrender your license.

As of November 2018 the Arkansas State Board of Nursing has a new program called the Alternative to Discipline Act. This law allows a nurse to enroll in treatment or “rehabilitation” as the act calls it. The program is for nurses who self-report; are referred to the alternative to discipline program by the board; or sign an initial agreement with the program coordinator to oversee the nurse who failed a test.

To be referred by the board, the nurse must not have any prior discipline flags on their record.

If the nurse fails or refuses to cooperate and complete the program they can be disciplined for failure to comply with the agreement they struck with the board to enter the program.

Because your nursing license is so important, you should hire a lawyer to help you defend yourself against an alleged violation of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing rules. There are many reasons why you might not have to surrender your license, and it is critical that you understand your rights. You must find someone who is experienced in negotiating with the Arkansas State Board of Nursing.

Because your nursing license is so important, you should hire a lawyer to help to defend yourself against an alleged violation of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing rules. There are many reasons why you would not have to surrender your license, and it is critical that you understand your rights. You must find someone who is experienced in negotiating with the Arkansas State Board of Nursing.

We offer a flat fee pricing of $2,500 to handle alleged nursing board violations. If you value your position as a nurse and have a pending violation with the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, please call us to understand your rights and defend your license.

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What Happens if I Get Arrested in Arkansas?

Many defendants in Arkansas who enter into a plea deal will end up on probation. If you end up on probation, it is important to understand how it can be terminated.

The first step in attempting to end your probation early is contacting an Arkansas criminal defense lawyer.

In assessing whether to terminate a person’s probation early, the court will look to many different factors. Some of the factors include: the relationship with one’s probation officer and whether a person has completed all the requirements, such as completing classes, community service, having paid all restitution, and any other requirements set forth by the court.

If a person has completed all the requirements, other than the time, a criminal defense lawyer can file motions with the court to terminate the probation early. It is important to consider ending it early.

The sooner you are off probation, the less likely you are to engage in some activity that can cause you to face a revocation. It is important not to get revoked because in many situations, a revocation can do away with the ability of a person to receive the benefits of being sentenced under certain acts such as the first offenders act (Act 346 or Act 531).

If you think you may be eligible for early probation termination, contact one of our Arkansas criminal defense lawyers today.

Introduction to probation revocation. What is probation? How many people are on it? How do you get on probation? How long can you stay on probation? etc.

First, you need to know how you can get revoked. Violating any of the requirements of a probationer will get you revoked. Some of the most common requirements are; passing random drug tests, failing to make appointments with your probation officer, not completing community service, not competing required treatment programs, and picking up a new charge.

If the state feels you have done something that qualifies as a revocation, they can file a petition for revocation with the court having jurisdiction over your current case. Arkansas law requires that a hearing must be held within 60 days of the filing of the petition to revoke. This hearing will be to determine whether you have violated the terms of your probation.

The standard for determining a probation violation is not the same as required for a conviction of a crime. Preponderance of the evidence is the standard used, this basically means that if more than 50% of the evidence shows that you violated your probation, the judge will find you guilty of the revocation.

It is very important that you have a competent defense attorney with you at this stage of the revocation. Your probation attorney will be able to cross examine the state’s witnesses and put on witnesses that are favorable to you. If the judge finds that you are guilty of the violation, he or she will then decide what will happen to you. Your attorney will be able to make an argument for why you should be reinstated and continue with probation rather than be sent to the pen.

Although a hearing of the allegations of the revocation petition is a reality, if after assessing your case, it is determined that the state will likely prevail in their pursuit of a revocation, a good lawyer may be able to strike a deal with the prosecutor to keep you on probation and out of the pen.

If you or someone you know is facing the possibility of a probation violation or probation revocation, you should contact a good criminal defense attorney.

Under Arkansas law, you can be sentenced to probation to avoid going to jail. If you are on probation, you want to make sure that you do everything you can to avoid a probation revocation. As you probably know, your probation can be revoked for many reasons, including failing drug tests, missing appointments with your probation officer, failure to complete treatment programs, or picking up a new criminal charge.probation revocation

Once your probation officer decides to pursue a revocation, he or she will file a Petition for Revocation with the court. At that point, the court must hold a hearing on the petition for revocation within 60 days. There are a few things you need to know about this hearing:

  1. The court will tend to side with the probation officer.
  2. The State does not need to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the standard in a probation revocation is a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is much easier to meet.
  3. You can be represented by an attorney at your probation revocation hearing.

There are over 2,000 people who enter the Arkansas Department of Corrections each year because of a probation revocation. It is very important that you take it seriously or you may end up in jail, even for a little slip-up.

Having an attorney to handle your probation revocation gives you a huge advantage. The criminal defense lawyer will be able to cross-examine the probation officer. If it is clear that the PO just has it out for you, the lawyer can make this very clear to the judge.

A criminal defense lawyer will also be able to bring in other evidence of how you are doing. For instance, if you missed an appointment with your PO because you were doing something else that is productive, the lawyer can also make sure the judge hears this. You may have factors that make you look better to the judge and make your slip-up less of an issue.

A criminal defense lawyer also may be able to strike a deal with the prosecutor if your case doesn’t look good. As we all know, there are too many prisoners and not enough prisons. Ultimately, a prosecutor doesn’t really want to put someone behind bars who doesn’t belong there. A good lawyer will be much better able to negotiate and strike a bargain than you will.

If you are facing a probation revocation and have questions, please contact us. It is a serious matter and you need to know exactly what you’re up against.

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