Defenses To Domestic Violence Charges In Virginia
If you are facing charges of domestic violence, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of your next steps. The state of Virginia has severe penalties for those who are convicted of domestic violence charges. Domestic violence charges are serious but there are defenses to domestic violence charges in Virginia. Consider visiting with the an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at 703-934-0101 to ensure your legal rights remain protected.
What is Domestic Violence?
The Code of Virginia states that it is a crime to injure any member of your household or family, attempt to injure them or threaten them. If there is a restraining order against you, you cannot violate that restraining order, and even go near that family member.
Any act against a household member or family member that involves threats, force, or violence, and results in physical injury or puts a member of the home in harm’s way can constitute domestic violence.
Charges of domestic violence do not necessarily need to include physical violence. In fact, Virginia law stipulates that sexual abuse or stalking qualifies as domestic violence. Therefore, any situation that leaves a household or family member in fear for their well-being and safety, any threats that have been made verbally or otherwise, and any physical violence can result in charges of domestic violence.
Who Is Considered a Household or Family Member?
According to Virginia Code Ann. § 16.1-228, a family member or household member includes any of the following:
People who have children together
People who have lived together before
People who live together now
Penalties for Domestic Violence
Depending on the facts and circumstances of your specific situation, there are several different types of charges that you may receive for acts that involve domestic violence. Assault and battery is considered a class 1 misdemeanor in the state of Virginia.
In some situations, first-time offenders may be granted probation and treatment in lieu of jail time. However, a class 1 misdemeanor can face penalties of up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500.
If convicted of a second domestic violence situation or violating a restraining order, Virginia state law requires a minimum of 60 days in jail.
In the event that an individual has two or more prior convictions, the charges can be a Class 6 felony resulting in penalties of up to one year in jail or up to five years in prison in addition to a fine of $2,500.
In addition, if convicted of domestic violence, there can be long-term repercussions for an individual’s personal life, social opportunities, volunteer opportunities, as well as career opportunities.
Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges in Virginia
There are two main defenses to domestic violence charges in Virginia, which include either challenging the evidence brought against an individual or challenging the legality of the arrest.
Challenging the Evidence
Domestic violence charges are serious, and so is the burden of proof the courts require. Virginia state courts require anyone claiming domestic abuse against themselves or their family must prove that the aggressor violated state laws, namely that they created a physically dangerous environment, made threats, or otherwise instilled fear in the family.
At the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall, our attorneys can review the evidence against you and prepare evidence in your favor. For example:
Photographs or medical records might indicate injuries were sustained, but a qualified attorney can work with medical professionals to demonstrate that the injuries being alleged did not happen in the way that it is claimed.
Witness testimonies from accusers or other witnesses can go a long way toward a solid defense to domestic violence charges.
Similarly, documentary evidence such as emails, phone calls, or text messages can prove or disprove accusations.
Challenging an Unlawful Arrest
Virginia domestic assault law 18.2-57.2 requires those police officers who respond to domestic assault arrest the predominant aggressor if they have probable cause that an assault took place. Effectively, if a police officer has probable cause and they believe that assault or battery against a household or family member took place, they have the legal responsibility to arrest who they believed to be the aggressor, and subsequently take them into custody and file protective orders on behalf of the other family members that prevent the person taken into custody from having any contact with them. This is juxtaposed by other assault cases where an individual would file claims against their aggressor.
However, in situations where the arrest is made illegally, or the officers arrested the wrong person, visiting with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you better understand how to build a strong defense and contest the domestic violence charges in Virginia.
A Good Defense Includes Types of Defense
When it comes to defending against charges of domestic violence, there are situations that make for a reliable defense, namely self-defense or the defense of others.
The best defenses to domestic violence charges include situations where an individual was defending themselves or their family.
Virginia state law states that individuals can protect themselves in situations where they are threatened or physically harmed.
If, for example, an individual is in an abusive relationship, and a situation gets out of hand at home leading to physical violence, Virginia state law dictates that the individual being physically harmed is allowed to defend themselves.
There are some caveats to self-defense, specifically regarding the level of physical action taken against another person. For example, if someone shoves or pushes another person, that person does not have the right to use deadly violence in self-defense. However, in situations where someone is attacking another person in the living room, and there is a serious risk of life or death, reciprocating by shooting the instigator of the attack might be a more acceptable example of self-defense in a courtroom.
Defense of Others
Similarly, Virginia state laws allow for the defense of others to some degree such that if someone is trying to protect their children from a violent and potentially lethal situation in the home, using similar force in the defense of others can be a legal defense.
Contact an Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
In any situation where you face charges of domestic violence, consider visiting with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney in Virginia to receive answers to your questions and learn more about your legal rights and what possible defenses to domestic violence charges in Virginia you may have. Our experienced attorneys can review your case and find possible defenses to your domestic violence charges in Virginia. Contact the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at www.farlawoffice.com or 703-934-0101 for your free consultation today.