While it might not be pleasant to think about it, it is really pretty easy to get charged with a crime related to domestic violence.

In some cases, too much alcohol or just a really stressful set of circumstances can lead to a resident of Northern Virginia acting out of character and making a mistake.

In other situations, people do exaggerate or even lie about domestic violence for a number of reasons. Since it all takes is the word of the victim for prosecutors to charge a crime, many innocent people may find themselves wrongly accused.

All domestic violence charges can have serious consequences

Oftentimes, someone who has never been in trouble before will have to deal with a misdemeanor charge related to domestic violence instead of a felony.

Furthermore, a prosecutor may be more willing to take the possibility of jail off the table for a first-time offender, although this is no guarantee.

Even so, a domestic violence conviction can have serious personal and professional repercussions. Even misdemeanor convictions can cost a person her job, especially if she works in a profession like teaching, medicine, social work or childcare.

A domestic violence conviction can also affect a person’s civil rights long-term. For example, even after he serves his sentence, federal law prohibits someone convicted of domestic violence from owning a firearm.

Finally, a domestic violence conviction is likely to impact negatively a parent’s custody and visitation rights if she has been through a divorce or other child custody proceeding, as judges must be reluctant to award custody to a parent with a recent history of domestic abuse.

The bottom line is that even someone who is otherwise unfamiliar with the criminal justice system will need to evaluate their legal options carefully when facing a charge related to domestic violence.