A domestic assault charge can have far-reaching consequences that impact your personal and professional life. A conviction carries the possibility of substantial jail time and fines, as well as a permanent criminal record. Contacting the experienced domestic assault lawyers at Sparrow Miller PLLC, should be the first step you take toward avoiding a criminal conviction and clearing your name.
Domestic assault is a specific type of assault, defined by the Commonwealth as a crime against a family member. The following constitute family members for the purposes of domestic violence or domestic assault in Virginia:
- Spouses and former spouses, regardless of whether they reside with the person charged
- Children, stepchildren, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, regardless of whether they reside with the person charged
- In-laws who reside in the same house as the person charged
- Those who have children together, whether or not they have ever been married or lived together
- Any individual who has “cohabitated” within the past 12 months and any children who resided with them
Battery under Virginia law requires only the intentional touching of another in an angry, rude, or vengeful manner.
Assault can be charged even if no contact or physical injury occurs, as long as there exists the ability and intent to cause harm.
Contrary to popular belief an alleged victim cannot “drop the charges”. A prosecutor may pursue criminal charges against an individual against the victims wishes or even if they choose not to cooperate. In such instances that family member should seek the services of an attorney.
Self-defense, or defense of others, may be an option in defending against the charge of domestic assault, but it is an “affirmative defense” which means that there must be admissible evidence put forward for the judge or jury to consider it. Often the only evidence comes in the form of testimony from the individual charged, which provides the prosecutor the opportunity of cross examination.
In evaluating a self-defense argument, the judge or jury will also determine whether the individual charged was with or without fault in bringing about the conflict, which may require additional evidence to be found not guilty.
After a criminal charge is brought a magistrate must issue an emergency protective order, and bond may be conditioned upon having no contact or communication with the alleged victim. This can mean that a defendant may be barred from the home or contact with loved ones. In such instances an attorney can assist in amending these bond conditions to allow for contact.
Violation of a protective order carries the same penalties as those for domestic assault.
The Commonwealth of Virginia takes both the charge and conviction of domestic assault very seriously. It is imperative that anyone accused or charged seek the services of a criminal defense attorney with expertise in domestic assault cases. Contact the law firm of Sparrow Miller PLLC to schedule a 30-minute free consultation.
Domestic assault is a Class 1 misdemeanor in the Commonwealth of Virginia, which can result in incarceration for up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
If an individual has two prior convictions of domestic violence, even from another state that occurred within a twenty-year period, a domestic assault and battery can be elevated to a Class 6 felony, which carries a potential prison sentence of up to five years.
There may also be additional consequences of a domestic assault conviction, which can include:
- A protective order prohibiting contact with the other party
- Loss of custody and/or visitation of minor children
- An inability to possess or carry a firearm under federal law
- A period of probation during which individuals must meet specific requirements
- Completion of a domestic violence education course and a clinical assessment to determine if further treatment is needed
If convicted of domestic assault, an individual could lose a required security clearance, and their immigration status may be endangered.