ATTORNEY DEFENDING CLIENTS ACCUSED OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The authorities in Virginia take domestic violence allegations seriously for one overriding reason – because when domestic violence claims are not taken seriously, tragedy is sometimes the result. Domestic violence is a genuine concern for thousands of families in Virginia.
But what if you are wrongly accused of committing a crime of domestic violence? Northern Virginia’s judges, criminal defense lawyers, and family law attorneys have seen plenty of false domestic violence allegations. It happens more often than you may think.
If it happens to you, will you be able to contest a domestic violence allegation and clear your name? What is considered domestic violence in Virginia, and exactly what is your recourse if you are accused of a crime of domestic violence?
WHAT CONSTITUTES CRIMINAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN VIRGINIA?
Under Virginia law, a domestic assault occurs when former or current spouses, household members, or family members are involved, and when someone intentionally:
- Touches a former or current spouse, household member, or family member in a rude, angry, or vengeful manner, and without legal justification
- Acts to harm a former or current spouse, household member, or family member, and has the ability to impose that harm
- Acts to cause a former or current spouse, household member, or family member to fear harm and in fact does cause that fear of harm
WHO ARE THE VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Even if no physical injury or harm occurs, the mere intent to cause harm constitutes domestic assault. Precisely who is considered a family member or a household member under Virginia’s domestic assault law?
- Spouses and former spouses, without regard to their current living arrangement
- Parents of the same child, without regard to their current or former marital status
- Immediate family and stepfamily members: parents, grandparents, children, and siblings, without regard to their current living arrangement
- In-laws living at the same residence
- Any persons who have resided together for the previous 12 months and any children who have resided with them
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTION?
For a first offense, domestic assault is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable upon conviction with up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
However, if a defendant has 3 or more convictions for any type of domestic violence within the last 20 years – including convictions in other states – domestic assault will be charged as a Class 6 felony, punishable upon conviction with up to 5 years in prison.
Along with fines and incarceration, a domestic assault conviction can also result in:
- Losing your right to own or carry a firearm
- Prohibiting you from having any contact with the victim
- A term of probation that may require domestic violence classes and/or a psychological evaluation to determine if clinical treatment should be recommended
If you carry a professional license in Virginia, a domestic violence conviction may trigger a disciplinary action by your professional licensing board. If you are an immigrant in this state, a domestic violence conviction may trigger a deportation proceeding.
HOW CAN YOU CONTEST A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGE?
In domestic violence cases where no one suffered a significant injury and there is little or no physical evidence, the case is basically one person’s word against another’s. If a prosecutor cannot prove your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” you cannot be convicted.
However, even if the state’s case against you is weak, you will need to be represented by a Fairfax domestic violence defense attorney who can explain to a jury exactly why and how the prosecution has failed to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Obviously, anyone who is charged with a crime of domestic violence must be represented by a Virginia criminal defense attorney who has substantial domestic violence defense experience.
HOW WILL A GOOD VIRGINIA DEFENSE ATTORNEY HELP YOU?
Every case is different, but the right defense lawyer can usually discredit a phony domestic violence allegation. If you were acting to defend yourself, your attorney will explain what happened. If you were defending your personal property, that might also be a successful defense.
The right defense strategy is imperative, but a successful defense against a domestic violence charge will also require the skills of a criminal defense lawyer who will fight hard on your behalf while protecting your rights and bringing your case to its best possible conclusion.
Since 2000, Fairfax domestic violence defense attorney Scott C. Nolan has aggressively and successfully represented clients who are accused of domestic violence. In fact, he has defended thousands of clients accused of serious crimes in Northern Virginia.
To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, call attorney Scott C. Nolan or complete the contact form on this website. Having a good attorney’s help is your right.