Being charged with a domestic violence crime in Covington, TN can be a stressful, anxious ordeal, particularly for someone who has never been in trouble before. Not only do you have to go through being arrested, taken to jail, and making bond, you must then navigate the court system. A first-time offender would naturally be at a loss as to what to do, and would have many questions about what happens next. A Covington, TN criminal defense lawyer can help you through this process. One of your first questions may be: do I need to hire a lawyer? The answer is absolutely yes. If you want the case handled properly, with the best chance possible of avoiding jail time and keeping it off your record, you should talk to experienced legal counsel. Many people charged with domestic assault in Tennessee believe that the charge will be dropped if the victim so desires, making the case go away and off his or her record. That’s not true. Just because the victim wants to drop the charge doesn’t mean that the state will. It is the state’s case, and if the prosecutor believes there is enough evidence to go forward then they will, and the victim will be subpoenaed to court if necessary. You are probably wondering: what is the punishment for a Covington domestic violence charge? Is this going on my record forever? Here you have some options that will help you, and a Tipton County domestic assault lawyer can help. Under Tennessee law domestic violence is punishable up to 11 months and 29 days. It is a misdemeanor, not a felony. A permanent conviction, however, should be avoided at all costs. Federal law mandates that anyone convicted of domestic violence will be prohibited forever from buying or possessing firearms. Additionally, many professions exclude applicants with domestic assault convictions, so you will find it hard to get a job. Finally, there is the stigma of being a convicted criminal. Having this charge on your record brands you forever as a violent person. Anyone who conducts a background check would be able to see it, and in Tennessee a conviction means that you cannot ever have it expunged or sealed. There are options for first-time offenders, though, and a Covington TN domestic assault charges lawyer can help. Offenders with a clean record can apply to have the charge removed after completing a period of supervised probation. This is known as diversion, a process where the accused pleads guilty and is placed on probation for the 11 month and 29 day period. During probation he or she must not get any new arrests and abide by all court conditions, and also pay probation and court fees. At the end of probation, provided all the requirements have been met, the charge is dismissed and permanently expunged. Diversion is an excellent opportunity for someone charged with domestic assault in Covington, TN to insure that it does not go on their record. It also insures that there will be no jail time. Diversion restores you to the status you had before being arrested, so there is no record at all of being charged with a crime. Many people wish to challenge their domestic violence case, or are confident that the charge will be dropped because the victim won’t testify. However, it’s usually better to seek a resolution that will keep the matter off your record permanently. Patrick Stegall is a Covington, TN domestic assault lawyer. He represents individuals charged with crimes in Covington and throughout Tipton County. If you have been charged with domestic assault and are concerned about jail time or having it on your record permanently, contact Mr. Stegall by phone at (901) 205-9894 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.