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A third party overhears a heated argument and, purely out of concern, calls 911. A spouse summons the police, never dreaming that the call could lead to an arrest, a night in jail and a criminal charge.

Those are only two of the ways a dispute with a wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend or an ex- can lead to serious charges of criminal domestic violence – accusations that can result in jail or prison time, hefty fines and long-term consequences such as losing the right to have a firearm.

If you’re facing such a charge, it’s important to hire an experienced domestic violence lawyer to handle your case. It’s tempting at times, particularly with misdemeanor domestic violence charges, to simply pay the fine and put the incident behind you.

Unfortunately, paying the fine is the same thing as pleading guilty. Both result in a domestic violence conviction that can have an impact on everything from a hunting license to employment.

These charges do not go away easily – some people are under the impression that if the spouse later asks to drop the charge it will be dismissed, but that’s not the case. Once police have been called and a charge has been filed, it’s up to the prosecutor to decide whether to proceed.

It isn’t true either that the case will go away just because the other party refuses to testify. Other evidence, such as police testimony and recordings from 911 calls, can be used, plus the spouse can face charges for refusing to testify.

Nor is it true that just because the couple reconciles they can resume their relationship as if the incident never happened. If a “no contact” order was issued following a domestic violence arrest, it takes an official court order allowing contact to resume. Otherwise, spouses can find themselves being charged with contempt of court for violating a “no contact” order.

For those reasons and more, anyone charged with domestic violence needs to take the charge seriously even if the case is a misdemeanor. The domestic violence lawyers at Morton & Gettys in Rock Hill can assess your case based on both the law and your individual circumstances, with an eye toward helping you achieve the best possible outcome.

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