I am not a citizen of the United States, but I live here. What will happen if I get convicted or plea to a charge of domestic violence? It is not just the NFL that you will get kicked out of if you are convicted of a Domestic Violence offense. If you are not a citizen, you run the risk of being kicked out of the United States. It does not matter if it is a felony or a misdemeanor. The immigration laws have a zero tolerance policy. You can even be deported for a conviction that occurred years ago. A conviction means that you will be placed in deportation proceedings and your options for relief are limited or non-existent. This is why it is very important that wherever there is an allegation of domestic violence you obtain the help of an experienced attorney.   What if I am falsely accused of domestic violence? What if you are falsely accused of domestic violence? Is it a big deal? What if you are charged with a misdemeanor and you are told you can get out of jail the same day if you enter a “no contest” plea? Should you just enter the plea and get back to work so you don’t lose your job?   There is not a simple answer to these questions. A conviction of domestic violence can carry a small penalty in the criminal court but have disastrous effects on your immigration status and ability to remain in the country. Your motivation for entering a plea does not matter. In the eyes of the law, it is presumed that if you entered the plea, you actually committed the crime. It is imperative that you obtain the help of an experienced defense counsel who can assist you in presenting your defense. An experience defense attorney, with the advice of an experienced immigration attorney can help determine what is best taking into consideration all of your interests.   Why is domestic violence treated so harshly? Domestic violence is a serious issue and needs to be treated as such. It does not matter whether you are a victim of domestic violence, a falsely accused perpetrator, or in fact someone who has committed an act of domestic violence. There are deep seated relationship issues that must be addressed in each instance. There also serious legal issues as well. The immigration laws while tough on the perpetrators of domestic violence are also designed to protect victims of domestic violence. For more information about immigration benefits for victims of domestic violence visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/vawa_factsheet.pdf and http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes/victims-criminal-activity-u-nonimmigrant-status/victims-criminal-activity-u-nonimmigrant-status   What can I do if I am the victim of domestic violence? If you are a victim of domestic violence, there are various programs and facilities available to help you. While the focus of this article is not related to the social aspects of domestic violence, there are some important considerations which are social in nature. Sometimes immigrants feel powerless to do anything about their situation or are afraid that if they report an event to law enforcement it will lead to their own deportation.  This is not the case. Social programs available and federal immigration laws and policies are intended to protect all victims regardless of their immigration status. Any victim should feel free to report domestic violence. Some of these programs and policies may be found at the following links http://www.cpedv.org/Resources%20A%20K (Search for help by County in California.) http://www.thehotline.org/ (National 24 hour hotline.)     How to avoid domestic violence Domestic violence is a horrible thing which will leave a scar in many areas of the life and those around you. It is important that you seek the right type of experienced legal assistance when dealing with the legal aspects of this ugly topic. A comment on the social aspects of this issue: Respect for the dignity of the other person in a relationship goes a long way toward making sure that domestic violence is never a part of your life. Disrespect and lack of self-control can get out of hand and boil into angry violent confrontations. This disrespect often starts with lies, grows to resentment, and erupts in violence. This works both ways. Give respect. Require respect. If your partner treats you with contempt, then that anger is a warning sign. Warning signs in relationships are just like warning signs on the highway. They tell you that you need to change how you are proceeding or something bad will happen. It would be ludicrous to imagine driving down the road at highway speed and just ignoring the sign for a sharp curve ahead. It is just as dangerous in a relationship to ignore warning signs. We strongly advise you to seek professional counseling immediately if you see the warning signs begin to appear.   By, Seth O’Dell, Esq. And Gabriela Lopez, Esq. of Eaton & Associates. http://www.federalimmigration.us/us/