Domestic Violence Vs. Assault In Virginia
If you are facing charges of domestic violence or assault, you may feel overwhelmed, unsure of what to do next. Virginia has severe penalties for both charges. Domestic violence and assault take the form of the same types of violence but differ based on the relationship. Domestic violence or assault charges are serious, but it is important to understand that there are defenses to these charges. Consider visiting with an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at 703-934-0101 to learn more about domestic violence vs. assault in Virginia.
Domestic Violence vs. Assault in Virginia
Legally, domestic violence and assault are the same potential charges but they are treated differently because of the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. The reason for this is the law considers it more difficult to get away from someone with whom you live compared to a stranger. Differences between domestic violence vs. assault in Virginia include where the case is heard. Assault and battery cases are heard in a regular district court. Domestic violence cases are heard in a family court or domestic relations court.
In Virginia, state law stipulates that if a special relationship exists between the alleged attacker and the alleged victim, the case no longer qualifies as assault and battery and is hereafter referred to as a domestic assault and battery case or domestic violence case.
What Is Considered a Special Relationship?
According to Virginia Code Ann. § 16.1-228, a special relationship exists between people who are married, have children, cohabitate, or have some other legal affiliation. This can include:
Spouses, current or former
Parents and grandparents
Children and grandchildren
People who have children together
People who have lived together before
People who live together now
What Is Assault?
Section § 18.2-57 of Virginia law defines assault and battery as unwanted physical contact, touching, or bodily injury. Assault can include attempts to cause bodily harm as well as threats or verbal abuse while battery involves legitimate physical harm. Section § 18.2-57.2 defines assault and battery against a family member or household member as the same.
Penalties for Assault
The penalty for assault and battery convictions is a class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties for an assault and battery conviction in Virginia can include probation and rehabilitation treatment for first-time offenders, up to one year in jail, and a fine up to $2,500. Subsequent convictions can result in a Class 6 felony with penalties between one year in jail or five years in prison and a fine of $2,500.
What Is Domestic Violence?
The Code of Virginia states that it is a crime to injure any family member or household member. This includes physical injuries, threats, attempts to injure, emotional violence, sexual abuse, stalking, and other forms of harassment. Any act against a family member or a household member that involves violence, force, threats, or otherwise puts them in harm’s way can be considered domestic violence. Any family member or household member who fears for their safety and well-being can press charges for domestic abuse in Virginia
Penalties for Domestic Violence
The penalty for domestic violence convictions is a class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense. The penalties for domestic violence vary based on the situation. First-time offenders can face up to one year in jail as well as a fine of $2,500. The court may decide to grant probation and treatment instead. If the conviction for domestic violence in Virginia is also a violation of a restraining order, the law requires a minimum of 60 days in jail.
A second conviction of domestic violence also requires a minimum of 60 days in jail and potential fines or rehabilitation
Any subsequent convictions for domestic violence will result in a Class 6 felony with up to five years in prison and a fine of $2,500.
Defenses to Domestic Violence vs. Assault Charges in Virginia
There are two main defenses to domestic violence or assault charges in Virginia. The first is to challenge the evidence. The second is to challenge the legality of your arrest. Consider contacting a criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall to determine which is best for your situation.
Challenging the Evidence for Domestic Violence or Assault
Individuals claiming assault or domestic abuse must prove that the aggressor created a dangerous environment, threatened them, or otherwise made them fearful for their safety and well-being.
For assault cases, this is generally an isolated incident but for domestic violence cases it could be multiple incidences.
A criminal defense attorney can review the evidence against you and prepare a defense to it. For example:
Evidence of assault or domestic violence can include medical records or photographs for injuries. A qualified attorney can evaluate the legitimacy of those injuries and potentially demonstrate that they did not happen in the way the accuser claims or that they happened prior to the event in question.
Evidence for a defense of assault or domestic violence can include witness testimonies.
Evidence in the form of text messages, emails, or phone calls can work to prove or disprove accusations of assault or domestic violence.
Challenging an Unlawful Arrest for Domestic Violence or Assault
With regard to domestic violence, Virginia Code section 18.2-57.2 requires police officers who respond to a domestic assault call make an arrest. In some cases, police officers might arrest the wrong person.
In some situations, you might act out of self-defense or defense of others when you are assaulted and be accidentally arrested as the predominant aggressor in the situation.
Domestic Violence Vs. Assault In Virginia Defenses
Self-defense or defense of others are both sound legal strategies to counter charges of domestic violence or assault in Virginia.
Virginia law says individuals can protect themselves when they are physically threatened or harmed. If you are in an abusive relationship that results in physical violence you can defend yourself. If you are attacked on the street by a stranger you can also defend yourself.
Defense of Others
Virginia state law indicates individuals can defend others if they are being physically threatened or harmed. If someone in your home is threatening your children you can protect your children much the same as if a stranger comes into your place of business and is threatening your employees, you can protect your employees.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
In any situation where you face charges of domestic violence or. assault in Virginia, consider visiting with an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn more about potential defenses and charges. Our experienced attorneys can review your case and find potential defenses to your situation and give answers to assault and domestic violence questions. Contact the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at 703-934-0101 for your free consultation today.