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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16075
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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MY name is Matt. I was convicted of domestic violence against

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MY name isXXXXX was convicted of domestic violence against my wife in 10/30/07. I had my probation suspended over a month early as well as I had the case set aside in 9/15/08, immediately following my early probation termination. My wife and I are still together happily married for 4 years dating 3 years prior. The night of my arrest we were arguing got slightly physical, no hospital or ambulances involved. I called the police because I was threatening to leave; she was giving me an ultimatum if I left that included my not returning ever. I did not want that so I called the police not knowing that someone had to be arrested. I wanted them to mediate and give me permission to leave so we could cool off separately. Upon my arrest I 100% cooperated, spent the night in jail, was released without bail, first ever arrest of any kind. I went to court about a month later without a lawyer present was told my prosecuting attorney that I had only 2 options plead guilty and have less severe sentence or plead not guilty and risk going to jail. She also told me my wife could not testify on my behalf, to my disbelief. My wife and I have since tried to adopt a child because my wife needed to have a hysterectomy. We were denied because I could not get a fingerprint approval card so we lost a child who I will call Jesse who was in our lives for about 9 months on a typical schedule of twice a month visitation or more. Prior to being denied we were told by the fingerprint clearance card judge I believe as he put off the record that he felt the prosecuting attorney took advantage of me and should have offered me what Deterrent if my memory serves me correct. Since I was 35 years old at the time, never been arrested and was a relatively responsible person for me, my wife and her 10 year old daughter who I have been a father to since she was 6 years old. This arrest has also made it difficult to find work since I have been laid off since 12/01/09. My wife and I believe with all that said my constitutional rights have been violated. Do we have a case against the city of chandler or any other possibilities?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.
Hi Jacustomer,

Unfortunately, once you plead guilty to the charge, you cannot turn around and blame the county for the negative consequences of having a criminal record. By definition, a plea of guilty means that you are a wrongdoer and that you are knowingly and voluntarily giving up your right to challenge the evidence and confront your accusers. Back when you took the plea, your judge took every precaution to make this plea airtight by putting on the record somewhere that you knew exactly what you were doing, that you were pleading guilty because you were guilty and hadn't been forced into the plea in any way, that you know you had the right to hearings and trials but were giving these up because you were guilty and so forth and so on.

That record was designed to keep defendants from changing their mind down the road and trying to get their plea back. So although now you realize that what you did may have made sense at the time but was long-term a very costly decision for you, your hands are pretty much tied.

It's almost impossible to reopen the plea and try to get it back and you are probably past the appeal period, as you've also completed a probationary sentence. However, what you could do was what you did already -- petition the court to get your conviction set aside and clean up your record.

You can also go further and apply for a pardon from the governor, which you would have to obtain throught the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency. Again, you wouldn't need a lawyer to accomplish this, although there are lawyers who specialize in pardons, expungements and gun rights. The Board's website can give you more information about that.

If you feel that this time around it might pay you to use a lawyer so that you can be sure of all your rights before you commit to going forward, you can get a one time inexpensive referral for a half hour consultation with an active member of the Arizona bar in good standing by calling the Arizona Bar Associaton's Lawyer Referral Service and telling them you want a criminal lawyer who can handle pardons. You could sit down and find out what he'd be able to do for you that could make this come out better than if you did it yourself. And if you weren't interested in hiring him at the close of the conference, you'd be under no obligation to continue with him.

Good luck.

Edited by FranL on 10/2/2010 at 5:54 AM EST

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