Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
Family abuse or domestic violence charges are common when police are made aware of domestic disputes in Mecklenburg County. Lawmakers seeking to protect persons considered to be vulnerable have enacted statutes that provide certain protections and change arrest procedures in situations where domestic violence is alleged. And law enforcement officials treat allegations of domestic abuse seriously.
However, in many situations, domestic violence charges are not warranted under the circumstances. To avoid the difficulties that can arise from having these types or charges or a conviction on your record, if you are facing allegations of domestic abuse, it is wise to consult a dedicated Mecklenburg County domestic violence lawyer who could help protect your rights and provide guidance to help you avoid taking actions or making statements that could compromise your defense. Call a seasoned criminal defense attorney today to get started on your defense.
Section 19.2-81.3 of the Virginia code gives police the latitude to arrest someone without a warrant in domestic disputes if they have probable cause to believe that certain offenses were committed against family members. These offenses include assault and battery against a household member and violation of a protective order.
In fact, the statute essentially requires police to take someone into custody if they believe that person was the “predominant physical aggressor” in a domestic violence situation unless circumstances clearly indicate that an arrest is inappropriate. If the police do not arrest someone, they still must file an incident report concerning the family violence allegations. A summary of this report must be made available to the person who made the domestic violence complaint.
In addition, if police either make an arrest or find a reason to believe family members may be in danger, they must file an emergency protective order petition with the court.
An emergency protective order, which police often request in domestic violence situations, may also be requested from the judge or magistrate by an individual. No arrest is needed for this type of order to be issued, but it expires after three days.
A preliminary protective order lasts longer— fifteen days or until the court has held a hearing. An applicant seeking a preliminary protective order must make a sworn statement, but the order may be issued without input from the other party. At the hearing, both sides of the story may be presented.
After hearing both parties to the dispute, the judge will decide whether to issue a full protective order that can remain in force for up to two years.
Violations of any of these types of protective orders are considered serious offenses in their own right, with separate criminal penalties that include up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Penalties increase for subsequent violations. Therefore, it is essential for a defendant to seek the services of a Mecklenburg County domestic violence attorney.
The primary statute under which domestic violence is charged is found in section 18.2-57.2 of the Virginia code entitled “assault and battery against a family or household member.” An assault is considered to take place when someone threatens harmful or offensive contact and appears to have the means to carry out that threat.
A battery occurs when one party makes unpermitted offensive contact with another person. An injury is not necessary for contact to be considered a battery.
Family and household members are considered to include:
Penalties for assault and battery against a family or household member include up to one year of imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500 for a first offense.
Protective orders are routinely issued in Mecklenburg County in domestic violence cases. It can be difficult to understand how to fully comply with the terms of an order, but even an accidental violation can lead to severe consequences.
So, if you are facing or may be facing domestic violence charges, contact a Mecklenburg County domestic violence lawyer for a free consultation to learn how a legal professional could help.