Domestic violence is currently one of the most reviled, yet least understood offenses common in Brunswick County. While it is admirable to seek to protect vulnerable members of society, law enforcement officials sometimes go overboard and issue criminal charges where they are not warranted. Moreover, public opinion is quick to pick up and condemn any allegations, whether they are founded or not. So, anyone facing accusations involving domestic violence is advised to consult a knowledgeable Brunswick County domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible. A dedicated criminal defense attorney who understands the delicate aspects of domestic violence cases could not only advocate on behalf of the accused but also work to protect the rights of those involved and provide advice to avoid pitfalls that could make the situation worse.
While domestic disputes may lead to a number of different criminal charges, very frequently the charge that results from Va. Code Ann. §18.2-57.2 entitled “Assault and battery against a family or household member.” To understand what actions are covered by this statute, it is necessary to look at the definitions of assault and battery as well as the definition of family or household member.
The statute does not describe situations that constitute assault and battery but instead relies on the common law definition. Common law definitions are not set forth in statutes but instead evolve over time based on court decisions.
Generally, a battery occurs when someone makes unpermitted harmful or offensive contact with another person. For instance, punching another person would constitute battery and spitting on someone could also be considered battery because it is offensive.
An assault occurs when a person takes action to make another fear they are in danger of imminent bodily harm. It is not necessary to actually cause harm or even make contact in order for an assault to be complete; the threat of harm is sufficient. So, in the middle of a heated argument, it is easy to see how one party could take action that could be interpreted as an assault when no actual harm was intended.
The definition of family or household members is found is Va. Code Ann. §16.1-228. Those covered under the domestic violence provisions include:
In the statute prohibiting assault and battery against a family member, the provisions specify the magistrate must issue an emergency protective order when an arrest warrant is issued for a violation of the statute unless the person alleged to have committed an act of domestic violence is a minor.
Whenever a protective order is in place, it is crucial to understand and comply with the terms. Violation of a protective order becomes an additional offense subject to further penalties. Regardless of the circumstances, a person accused of domestic violence or someone who has had a protective order issued against them should contact a dedicated Brunswick County domestic violence lawyer.
Although assault and battery against a family member or violation of a protective order may be treated as a misdemeanor, even with no prior offenses these crimes are considered serious Class 1 misdemeanors.
Those convicted may be sentenced to up to one year of imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500. Depending on the circumstances, these offenses may be treated as felonies.
When the stakes are this high, it is wise not to take chances. If you are facing domestic violence allegations, a Brunswick County domestic violence lawyer could advocate on your behalf at all stages of the proceedings and provide advice about complying with protective orders to avoid further difficulties. For a free consultation to learn your options and protect your rights, call now.