If you have been charged with domestic violence or family abuse in Virginia, you will need an experienced Arlington domestic violence lawyer on your side. Virginia courts take family abuse allegations very seriously, but our domestic violence attorneys in Arlington also understand that not all family abuse claims are credible, and individuals can sometimes make false or exaggerated claims.
Domestic violence in Virginia encompasses several different potential charges, depending on the circumstances of the alleged incident that led to the accusations. Your Arlington domestic violence lawyer with our firm will have the necessary familiarity with assault and battery, sexual assault, forceful detention, child abuse, stalking, harassment, and restraining order violation charges that could occur as a result of domestic violence allegations.
Virginia Code 16.1-228 defines family abuse as any act against a family or household member that involves violence, threats, or force and either causes bodily injury or causes the person to have a reasonable fear that bodily injury, death or sexual assault is about to occur. The law specifically identifies stalking, sexual assault, forceful detention, and other criminal acts as conduct that could be considered family abuse. Because causing a family member to reasonably fear for their well being could constitute assault, it is possible that you could face a domestic violence charge without having caused any bodily injury to an alleged victim. If you believe the charges against you are unfair, an Arlington domestic violence lawyer can help.
Penalties associated with domestic violence offenses depend on the specific offense or offenses a person is accused of and range from up to 12 months in jail and $2500 in fines for misdemeanor assaults, to a potential life sentence for certain higher level felonies, like rape. In addition, subsequent domestic violence convictions carry increasingly harsh penalties under Virginia Code 18.2-57.2. A third domestic violence conviction or a third protective order violation is considered a Class 6 Felony punishable by up to five years in prison, and so is a first-offense of violating a protection order, if the victim is seriously injured.
The law also defines who is considered a family or household member for the purpose of family abuse charges. Spouses and ex-spouses, parents, stepparents, children, stepchildren, siblings and half-siblings, and grandparents and grandchildren all qualify as a family or household members under the law, even if they do not reside together in the same home. In-laws of all degrees who reside together are also considered family or household members, as are persons cohabitating or who have cohabited in the past 12 months, and either of their children. Persons who share a child in common are also considered family members, even if they have never been married or cohabitated. Your Arlington domestic violence lawyer can help you determine whether the person accusing you of family abuse is considered a household member under the law.
Being accused of domestic violence can have serious consequences, even if you have not yet been charged with a crime. Simply having an order of protection filed against you can negatively impact your life, but your Arlington domestic violence lawyer can work to clear your name. If you have been charged with family abuse, your domestic violence attorney in Arlington can fight the charges in court, challenge or refute the evidence against you, point out weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case and negotiate for reduced charges or penalties.