Domestic violence is an area of law that can carry severe consequences. Not only can it put you or your loved ones in danger, it can often cause irreparable harm to both your family and your finances. That being said, it is important to make sure you have the assistance of an experienced Arlington domestic violence lawyer by your side to help ensure your case is handled with your best interests in mind.
Any law enforcement officer has the legal duty to abide by their oath of office, investigate the case, talk to the potential victim and potential witnesses, identify the primary aggressor, make detailed notes of the incident, and, if probable cause exists, make an arrest decision. The officer is advised to make the arrest decision and serve the arrest warrant in a timely fashion. Often law enforcement is pressured into making an arrest every time they get called into a situation with potential intimate partner violence, requiring them to make snap decisions about who the aggressor may be, and they can make mistakes. With this in mind, a defense attorney can assist both in protecting the rights of those accused and building a strong defense.
The most common difference between domestic violence and assault is that assault does not require an assault on a family member. The most common domestic violence charge is assault and battery of a family member but there are other offenses that would constitute as domestic violence including strangulation, abduction, aggravated assault, and sexual battery. These charges are not classified as assault although they are generally in the same family but prosecutors are conscious that the violence is under certain circumstances. In Arlington, there are a variety of crimes commonly viewed as domestic violence and handled in the local juvenile and domestic relations district courts.
There is no classification charge specifically of solely domestic violence in Virginia, so an individual can be charged with both assault and battery and a crime of domestic violence. Domestic violence cases, including assault and battery of a family member, are taken seriously in Arlington. They are typically handled in Arlington Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court by prosecutors who have specialized training in handling domestic violence cases. Judges in this court hear this type of case quite often and therefore are looking for specific facts and circumstances in order to help the prosecution to hear their conviction.
When someone is accused of committing an act of domestic violence, there are several types of protective orders that can be put in place. The most common type of protective order that applies in a domestic violence context is an emergency protective order (EPO) or preliminary protective order (PPO). An EPO can be issued after an act of domestic violence occurs, even when an arrest decision is not made. An EPO is more frequently used when an alleged act of abuse takes place but is not necessarily a criminal offense.
Additionally, the judge may implement a preliminary protective order (PPO). A preliminary protective order is granted after the emergency protective order is set to expire. This allows the party seeking the order to extend the time of protection but prevents the accused from going home and seeing their children or even pack a suitcase. It is important to consult with an Arlington domestic violence attorney in order to determine the best move for someone’s case.
A civil protection order may have a variety of impacts on a criminal charge. Typically, it is not in the person’s best interest to have the civil case heard prior to the criminal charge. This is because they do not enjoy the fact that there are protections in a simple trial as they would in a criminal trial. Civil penalties may have a lasting impact regardless of the outcome of the criminal trial and it is in someone’s best interests to have the civil trial heard after the criminal trial, and by statue, they are permitted a continuance to allow this to happen.
The violation of a protective order is a serious offense, and can incur penalties as serious as jail time. If someone is convicted of violating a protective order, the law dictates that they must be sentenced to a period of active incarceration. Working with a lawyer can help determine this length of time. They must be given a jail sentence as a punishment even though it may only be a misdemeanor.
Under no circumstances may the entire jail sentence be suspended. Practically speaking, this means that someone can get a sentence of up to 12 months in jail. Unlike many cases where the jail sentence can be completely suspended, if a person violates the order, their jail sentence cannot be completely suspended.
The manner in which a protective order affects child custody and visitation is a real concern. Under some types of protective orders, the party seeking the order of protection may be granted certain protections that hurt the accused and their relationship with their children.
Some protections can include the temporary sole use of the residence to the exclusion of the other party. The party barred from the residence is often the primary breadwinner. That person should make sure they take an action to allow the home, apartment, or the condo to be livable. That is, the person, even though they are not allowed to live there, will continue to keep the lights on, pay annual bills, water bills, and all of those things to build their credibility with the judge. An Arlington domestic violence attorney can assist someone in setting these types of things up.
Additionally, following the issuance of a protective order, certain rights can be delegated including temporary custody. How custody and visitation may apply to a protective order is something a person should work on with a domestic relations attorney and a criminal law attorney in conjunction.
Domestic violence is an area of law with serious consequences. It is not enough to simply go in and tell your side of the stories to the judge. You need to have an experienced domestic violence attorney in Arlington on your side to work for you as an advocate for your best interests. You should know that Arlington County takes domestic violence cases seriously and that it is typically in your best interest to hire an attorney when charged with a crime of domestic violence.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law