Leesburg Domestic Violence Lawyer
The Leesburg police department responded to 51,028 police calls in 2014, according to the Quarterly Crime Report. When the call to the police is about domestic violence, Virginia Code Section 18.2-57.2 makes it possible for the responding officer to arrest you even without a warrant as long as the officer determines there is “credible evidence” of assault against a family member. Most officers will make an arrest if they are called for a domestic assault charge. In many cases an argument that gets out of hand or even a simple misunderstanding can lead to you being taken into custody. If this happens to you, a Leesburg domestic violence lawyer can help you to understand the options you have available for responding to criminal charges.
Domestic Violence Laws in Leesburg
Virginia makes assault against a household member a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia Code Section 18.2-57.2. Any unwanted touching of a household member, including indirect contact like throwing something or hitting someone with an object, can result in your arrest for assault. However, if police believe the alleged victim was maliciously wounded or strangled, the offense is a Class 6 felony. If you have multiple prior convictions for domestic violence you should contact a Leesburg domestic violence lawyer right away, you can also be charged with a Class 6 felony even for simple assault. If you are charged with a violent felony, you will be held without bond until a bond motion can be filed in most cases.
In addition to the Virginia law criminalizing domestic violence, you could also be charged with other crimes as well. It is common for defendants to face charges of abduction and strangulation when arguments get out of control. Other offenses are possible too, for example, preventing a 9-1-1 call under Code Section 18.2-164, or stalking, a Class 1 misdemeanor under Code Section 18.2-60.3. For a second stalking offense, you will be charged with a Class 6 felony. If you are accused of stabbing, cutting, or harming someone with the intent to cause serious bodily injury, you will face Class 3 felony charges under Section 18.2-51. If the victim was permanently impaired by the incident, the offense is a Class 2 felony.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in Leesburg
Domestic violence penalties vary depending upon the specific crime police believe you committed. If you are charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for assault against a household member, you could be sentenced to up to a twelve months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 under Virginia Code Section 18.2-11.
If you are charged with a Class 6 felony, Virginia Code Section 18.20-10 imposes a penalty of between one and five years in prison or, at the discretion of the judge or jury, up to a year in jail and a fine of as much as $2,500. Class 2 and Class 3 felonies both result in much longer terms of incarceration. Contacting a Leesburg domestic violence lawyer becomes imperative for this type of offense as you could be sentenced to life in prison for a Class 2 felony, or to 20 years for a Class 3 offense.
Accusations of domestic violence can change your life, even if you are not convicted of a crime. Code Section 16.1-279.1 allows people who claim they are victims of abuse to get a protective order. If this happens to you, your right to own a weapon may be restricted and you may not be allowed to live in your family home or have contact with your loved ones. Violations of protective orders can result in even more criminal charges stacking.
You need to protect your rights when accusations are made against you. A Leesburg domestic violence lawyer can help.
Should I Agree to a First Offender Program?
In many cases, a client who hasn’t been convicted of domestic violence in the past is eligible for a first offender program. First offender programs generally involve anger management and violence prevention classes as well as a two-year protective order. After successful completion of the two-year protective order and the classes, the case would be eligible for dismissal.
There are some reasons not to accept a first offender disposition right off the bat. It cannot be expunged from your record, and an admission of guilt may have some serious implications for you in immigration court or military court, for example. There is also no reason to accept a first offender disposition in some cases, because, for some clients, a first offender disposition is a likely outcome from losing at trial. In those cases, it is typically a better strategy to proceed to trial. When deciding whether to accept a first offender disposition, you will want to consider whether there are other alternatives that may result in having your case dismissed without the same level of court supervision.
How Can a Leesburg Domestic Violence Lawyer Help You?
When you are charged with domestic violence, you need to choose how to plead. A not guilty plea means you go to trial. If you choose this option, the prosecutor has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction. You can try to raise questions about whether the alleged abuse occurred, or argue that your actions were justified in self-defense, or present other evidence regarding the alleged conduct and whether it rises to the level of assault.
There are many other options in the case of domestic violence pursuant to Virginia Code Section 18.2-57.3. This particular code section allows for a deferred finding under certain instances. The terms of the deferred finding vary based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case, so be sure to discuss this option with your Leesburg domestic violence lawyer.
In some cases, a prosecutor won’t have enough evidence to move forward with the case. If this happens, you can avoid a trial and avoid conviction. If the alleged victim is unwilling to cooperate with the prosecution, this is a common outcome. However, prosecutors will sometimes move forward with a trial for domestic abuse even if the victim is not interested in pressing charges. After the charges are filed, the decision to prosecute lies with the Commonwealth’s Attorney, not the victim or the arresting officer, despite the common misconception to the contrary.
A Leesburg domestic violence lawyer can assist you in deciding what course of action may be the right one for you. Your domestic violence attorney in Leesburg can also represent you in court or negotiate with a prosecutor about your plea deal. Call today to learn more about domestic violence and obtain a free, initial consultation about your case.