In Virginia, domestic violence charges carry serious consequences that can impact a person’s life for years to come. If you are convicted of domestic assault, you will experience adverse repercussions in your professional life, personal life, and reputation in the community. If you find yourself facing any type of domestic violence or assault accusations, we recommend contacting a domestic violence attorney as soon as possible.
Contact a Virginia Domestic Violence Attorney
Virginia prosecutors have begun cracking down on domestic violence. What seems like an innocent domestic dispute can quickly turn into criminal charges with significant repercussions, including jail time. If you’ve been charged with domestic assault in Virginia, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced domestic violence attorney. Contact Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC today to schedule your free initials consultation and discuss your case with an experienced attorney.
Defining Domestic Violence in Virginia
In Virginia, it is a crime to injure, attempt to injure, or threaten a member of your family or household. It’s also a crime to inflict physical injury against a family or household member. Prosecutors need to prove two elements in domestic assault cases. First, the prosecution must prove that the incident involved a current or former spouse, household, or family member. The prosecution will also need to prove that the incident involved:
- Intentional touching with no legal reason to do so in an angry, rude, or vengeful manner, or
- Some action intended to cause harm to another, along with the ability to harm another, or
- Some action intended to cause another fear or harm and that did cause fear or harm.
Under this definition, a person can face domestic assault charges even if no physical injury or harm occurs. Additionally, defendants can be charged even if no physical contact with the alleged victim occurred, as long as the prosecution can prove that the defendant had intended to cause harm.
The Definition of a Family or Household Member
The prosecution must prove that the alleged victim meets the definition of a family member to charge a person with domestic violence. In Virginia, the definition of a family or household member is broad. All of the following individuals constitute a family or household member for domestic violence and battery charges in Virginia:
- A spouse or former spouse, whether or not the defendant resides with him or her
- Immediate family members and stepfamily members, including children, siblings, grandparents, and parents, whether or not they reside together
- In-laws who reside in the same household
- Individuals with a child in common, whether or not they have resided together or have ever been married
- Individuals who have resided together for the past 12 months and any children who resided with them
The Penalties for Domestic Violence in Virginia
Domestic violence charges have serious consequences that can lead to loss of access to your family, including your children, and being forced to move out of your family home due to a protective order. You can also face fines and jail time, and you will be unable to purchase, own, or possess a firearm. With a domestic violence conviction on your record, passing background checks, obtaining loans, and working in certain professions can be difficult, if not impossible. Depending on the defendant’s job, he or she could lose a required security clearance which leads to losing the job. Additionally, an individual’s immigration status could be endangered due to a domestic violence conviction.
In Virginia, domestic assault is a class 1 misdemeanor that carries a prison sentence of up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500. When a defendant has three or more convictions for domestic assault and battery, family abuse, or another similar crime, and the convictions occurred within 20 years, the prosecution can elevate the charges to a more serious Class 6 felony. Class 6 felony carries a potential prison sentence of up to five years.
Protective Order Violations
Intense emotional conflicts within a family cause many domestic assault charges. The alleged victim may be granted a protective order upon the initial domestic violence complaint. An emergency protective order may be granted to allow for a cool-down period. The preliminary protective order can be extended for up to two years regardless of the outcome of the criminal charges.
Domestic Violence in Divorce
Protective orders forbid the violator from contacting the victim and children who live with the victim. If you’ve had a protective order placed against you, it’s crucial that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. You have the opportunity to challenge the protective order and present evidence in your favor during the hearing.
Often, domestic violence charges arise when a couple is going through a divorce and fighting over child custody or other divorce-related matters. Unfortunately, an ex-spouse may be willing to make a false accusation of domestic violence to gain leverage in a child custody dispute.
Legal Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges
For those charged with domestic violence, the investigation process is crucial. If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, it’s essential that you keep any evidence you have, such as photographs, text messages, emails, and letters. At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, we can help protect your rights when you’re facing false domestic violence accusations by gathering evidence showing false allegations, including witness statements.
We can subpoena witnesses, question your accuser, and help you enter a plea. Working with an experienced attorney can help you protect yourself against losing access to your children during a contentious divorce or legal separation.
Discuss Your Case With a Virginia Domestic Violence Attorney
At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, our experienced criminal defense attorneys defend clients charged with domestic violence throughout Virginia. We understand that the consequences of being charged with domestic violence can have significant negative repercussions for an individual in his or her family. If you’ve been charged, it’s important that you act quickly and reach out to an attorney, giving your attorney enough time to begin gathering evidence and developing an effective legal defense strategy. If you are faced with domestic violence charges, contact Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC today to schedule your free initial consultation.