Dumfries Domestic Violence Lawyer
Virginia law punishes individuals convicted of domestic violence offense very harshly. In addition to the sanctions that you can receive as a result of a criminal conviction, you can become subject to a civil protective order, lose your rights to possess firearms, and even lose access to your children.
When you are faced with accusations of domestic violence, your best bet may be to contact a Dumfries domestic violence lawyer right away.
All too often, domestic violence allegations arise when a domestic dispute goes too far, and tempers flare, or in the context of a heated child custody dispute. Due to the severity of the charges that you could face, you must take immediate action to fight back against these charges.
Regardless of your situation, you are likely to benefit from the services of a seasoned defense attorney.
Defining Domestic Violence
Various criminal offenses can be crimes of domestic violence under Virginia law, as there is no separate domestic violence offense. To qualify as domestic violence, however, the crimes must involve specified family or household members. Under Va. Code § 16.1-228, these family and household members include:
- Current or former spouses
- Grandparents, parents, children, and siblings
- Immediate relatives by marriage to share the same home
- Individuals who share a child or who currently live together or lived together within the last year
Perhaps the most commonly-charged domestic violence offenses are assault and battery, as defined in Va. Code § 18.2-57.2. Assault occurs when individuals intentionally threaten to cause harm to others, but it becomes a domestic violence offense when it involves family or household members.
Likewise, battery happens when individuals make physical contact with others that is offensive or may cause physical harm; when it includes family or household members, it, too, is a domestic violence offense.
Other criminal offenses that involve inflicting harm on others also may occur in the contest of domestic violence. These offenses include malicious wounding, aggravated malicious wounding, abduction or kidnapping, strangulation, and malicious wounding or bodily injury, among others. A domestic violence lawyer in Dumfries may be able to help individuals accused of any domestic violence offenses to build a strong defense against the allegations that they are facing.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Offenses
Assault and battery against a family or household member generally is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This offense carries the potential for a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of $2,500. Although this is a misdemeanor offense, individuals with any domestic violence conviction are automatically ineligible to possess firearms.
However, for individuals who have two or more domestic violence convictions within 20 years, the result is a Class 6 felony charge. Domestic violence convictions for this code section include not only assault and battery, but also various other crimes that qualify as domestic violence, such as malicious wounding and strangulation. Any crime committed in other states that involves similar elements also counts to determine the number of domestic violence convictions that others have.
A Class 6 felony conviction may cause a prison sentence of between one and five years. However, a judge or jury has the discretion to sentence individuals to a jail sentence of one year or less and a fine of $2,500 or less. As the potential repercussions of a felony conviction can be harsh, individuals may wish to get the advice of a domestic violence attorney in Dumfries in this situation.
Let a Dumfries Domestic Violence Attorney Assist You
Aside from incarceration and fines that can result from criminal domestic violence convictions, individuals also are likely to become subject to a protective order, which can place severe limitations on them. These civil orders are designed to protect individuals from family or household members who pose a threat of domestic violence or family abuse.
As a violation of a protective order also is a crime, a Dumfries domestic violence lawyer can be instrumental in helping you avoid the repercussions of all types of domestic violence-related crimes.
A domestic violence conviction and implementation of a protective order against you may inhibit your future professional and personal opportunities. Defend yourself against these possibilities by getting the advice of legal counsel today.