The most common domestic violence charge in Virginia is assault and battery of a family member. It is an offense taken seriously in Arlington with immediate implications for a conviction. Attorneys who have been practicing in this area of law know the ins and outs of the law as well as legal short-term and long-term consequences of an arrest, the prosecution, and then the conviction. With these things in mind, if you are facing charges of domestic violence it is important you have someone who has been involved in a variety of cases to help build a proper defense. An Arlington domestic violence defense attorney is your advocate and can help separate the facts, separate the strong legal arguments from the weak ones, and advocate on your behalf.
There are many consequences associated with a domestic violence conviction in Virginia. If someone is convicted of domestic violence, typically charged as assault and battery of a family member, they are convicted of a class one misdemeanor. Class one misdemeanors in Virginia are punishable by up to 12 months in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, or a combination thereof. There is often a serious look at what the appropriate terms of probation or restrictions there would be for a domestic violation conviction. Those convicted may be required to complete certain classes, to have no contact for a period of time with the alleged victim, or undergo rigorous probation.
In addition, because assault and battery against a family or household member can be viewed as a crime of domestic violence under federal law, a conviction under this statute may prohibit a person from possessing or transporting firearms and ammunition. This is what is known as Lautenberg Amendment to federal firearm laws. Even though Virginia law is slightly different than a federal domestic violence conviction, the courts have interpreted in many cases that assault and battery can be a crime of domestic violence.
Penalties associated with domestic violence will depend on what the person is charged with. Crimes of domestic violence are sometimes class one misdemeanors, other offenses are class five or six felonies and even more serious felonies with life-altering penalties.
There are a variety of enhanced penalties for Arlington domestic violence charges. These include enhancements for subsequent offenses, depending on which precise code section someone is charged with. It may have different enhanced penalties for subsequent offenses and someone wants an experienced Arlington domestic violence attorney in that case.
Gathering evidence depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. Sometimes, third-party witnesses are an essential element of the case. It is important to gather what they saw, how they interpreted what they observed, and how they may influence the outcome of the case. Many times, in domestic violence cases, however, there are no third-party witnesses. It is simply he-said, she-said with very little evidence so it is important to know what the other party may say beforehand so an attorney can prepare to cross-examine.
Some of the common defenses used in domestic violence cases include self-defense, meaning the person was not the primary aggressor but they were only acting in self-defense, and that the alleged contact was not considered assault, meaning they do not fit the definition of assault and battery in the subsequent case law and assaultive contact. There may be other evidence that depends on the unique facts and circumstances of your case. Self-defense and that the alleged contact was not assault are the two most common legal defenses.
There are many benefits of contacting and working with the local Arlington domestic violence attorney. The primary benefit is that an experienced attorney who appears regularly in Arlington courts will know how to gather evidence, and know the best way to speak with the officers and the prosecutor. As an attorney, they want to be able to know what will the prosecutor present, how will they try to overcome certain witness issues, and what can be done to present the best possible defense to the judge if they are the most sympathetic and the most attentive to that type of defense.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law