If you were charged with a crime, you are probably well aware of how a conviction may impact your life. Even a misdemeanor conviction can result in a lifetime of paying penance. One of the ways in which someone convicted of a crime may pay for it indefinitely is how it may affect their child custody agreement. Children are easily affected by their circumstances and the decisions made by the adults in their life. When their parent makes a bad decision in life, it can impact the child even if the decision itself had nothing to do with the child. The child can also misinterpret a parent’s actions and blame themselves for the issue. For instance, if the parent is convicted of assault, they may lose custody or even visitation rights to the child. The child may interpret the absence of their parent as meaning that the parent does not love them anymore and no longer wishes to see them.
When the Criminal Charge Is Related to Parenting Ability
If you or the other parent was arrested for a crime such as shoplifting, it may not impact the existing child custody agreement. However, if the parent has shown a pattern of stealing because they cannot keep a job or pay their bills, a family law court judge may be more inclined to change the agreement. As a general rule of thumb, if the crime reflects the person’s ability or inability to care for the child and create a safe and healthy environment for them, they are at risk for losing all custody rights. After a review of your case, a child custody lawyer, can provide more insight as to how the criminal record of the other parent or of your own may affect the existing child custody agreement. Here are some examples that may provide some additional clarity in advance of consulting an attorney:
- A DUI conviction indicates that it may not be safe for the child to ride as a passenger. This is especially true if the parent has more than one DUI conviction or they were arrested for the offense while their child was a passenger in the vehicle.
- An assault conviction may suggest that the parent is violent, and a violent environment is not safe for children. The argument may be that the assault was not against a child and did not occur in view of the child, but this may have little impact on the court’s view of the crime’s seriousness.
- Drug-related crimes such as distribution, possession, or cultivation suggest that the child will be exposed to illegal activities, possible violence, and will be in proximity to potentially dangerous strangers.
- Not all crimes are the same, and felonies are especially taken seriously when considering the revocation of child custody rights. This includes crimes of stalking, kidnapping, aggravated assault, homicide, any crime related to child pornography, child sexual exploitation, rape, etc.
If you have been charged with a crime, consult a criminal defense attorney without delay to learn how they may be able to help you.