Do You Face Charges for an Assault on a Family Member in Virginia?
Being charged with an assault on a family member in Virginia can have severe and far-reaching consequences. Penalties for domestic violence may include jail, fines, community service, loss of firearm rights, protective orders, and attending a mandatory anger management program. A conviction may also be brought up and used against you in divorce or child custody proceedings.
A conviction means having a permanent criminal record that may affect your education, job, housing possibilities, reputation, and family and social relationships far into the future.
With penalties so severe, this is not something you should attempt to fight on your own. Get help from a domestic violence charge lawyer who is skilled and experienced in defending people faced with allegations of family assault.
Richmond domestic violence attorney Cody Villalon has 12 years of experience successfully fighting for the rights of people like you who have been accused. He knows the family courts, the prosecutors, and the system and how to explore and build your defense options.
Why Call Cody Villalon if You Were Charged with an Assault on a Family Member?
Cody is a hard-working solo practitioner who genuinely cares about clients’ well-being. He takes a personal interest in every case and never hands them off to others.
He believes everyone charged with a crime is guaranteed rights under the law and deserves to be treated with basic human dignity. He will be there for you throughout the entire legal process, addressing your questions and concerns and aggressively fighting to have your domestic violence charges lowered or dismissed.
Our Richmond domestic violence defense lawyer offers a free consultation to analyze your case and determine the best way to move forward. Take the first step in protecting your rights by calling us at 804.316.0765 today.
How Our Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Works to Help You
While Virginia domestic violence laws are strict and punishments can be severe, many charges are one-sided and slanted against the defendant. There are many occasions when police do not know what happened and choose to charge the male despite evidence of self-defense or obvious inconsistencies in the other side’s story.
Often charges are based on “he said, she said” verbal reports, and there is no actual physical evidence. There are times that charges are entirely fabricated and baseless, filed by a vindictive individual who wants to get back at their family member for perceived wrongs.
Fortunately, being arrested and charged with a domestic violence offense doesn’t mean you’ll be found guilty. With the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows Virginia’s criminal and constitutional law, you may have a basis for a domestic violence defense that can allow you to obtain a favorable plea bargain agreement, reduced charges, or have charges dropped entirely.
When you have Richmond domestic violence defense attorney Cody Villalon’s legal team on your side, we will:
- Listen to your side of the story and your explanation of what happened.
- Examine the police or abuse report, any past history of abuse or complaints, and the evidence available to find the best way to defend you.
- Look for mistakes made by the accuser, police, or prosecution in the handling of your case and violations of your rights.
- Prepare you for all hearings and court appearances so you know what to expect and prevent you from saying or doing anything that would hurt your case.
- Ensure that all required forms are filed correctly and promptly and that all court appearances and requirements are met.
- Negotiate and plea bargain with prosecutors for a lesser charge or an acceptable outcome.
- Build your defense and take your case to trial if necessary.
Our domestic violence defense attorney Cody Villalon knows that you have many rights under the law, including the right to remain silent and not answer questions by police unless an attorney is present. Cody will aggressively fight to make sure your rights are upheld and are ready to start today. Give us a call at 804.316.0765.
Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer in Richmond Explains Virginia Laws and Charges
What Qualifies as Domestic Violence or Assault?
Domestic violence is also described as an assault on a family member, spousal abuse, spousal assault, child abuse, or family assault. These terms generally refer to imminent or actual harm that one family member inflicts on another, as well as threats of violence or abuse. Stalking and sexual assault offenses may also be considered domestic violence, depending on the circumstances.
Domestic violence falls under Virginia’s assault and battery law (Code of Virginia § 18.2-57.2). The law says anyone who commits an assault and battery against a family or household member is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The crime of assault and battery involves the unlawful touching of another and has two elements:
- The touching was willful and without excuse or justification.
- The touching was done in an angry, rude, insulting, or vengeful manner.
Assault involves a threat with the means to carry out a battery that puts a person in reasonable fear of offensive touching, harm, or danger. The fear must be that the harm is imminent.
Battery occurs when there is actual infliction of bodily harm.
Common acts of assault and battery include pushing, shoving, slapping, choking, pulling hair, and forced sex. Battery can also involve the use of objects such as whips or sticks.
Domestic assault can be charged even if no physical injury or harm occurs, so long as an intent to cause harm is present and the victim has a reasonable fear of imminent harm and there is an immediate ability to carry out a threat. However, charges of assault and battery are usually only pursued by law enforcement if there was an actual injury, evidence of bruising, or a major emotional trauma to the victim.
Potential Punishments for Domestic Violence Crimes
What is the Punishment for an Assault on a Family Member?
Penalties for a domestic violence charge depend on the circumstances of the case and whether you have had previous charges. In some situations, you may be charged with one or more criminal offenses in addition to domestic violence.
First-Time Domestic Violence Charge
If this is your first charge, domestic assault on a family member is a Class 1 felony. A first-time offender could be placed on probation and receive a deferred finding or may receive a sentence of incarceration of up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500. In addition, the courts can restrict your contact with the victim and where you can live.
There may be court costs, a probation period, and requirements like therapy or counseling, completion of a domestic violence education course, and a clinical assessment to determine whether you need further treatment. Under federal law, a conviction for assault and battery on a family member in state court can result in the loss of the right to own or possess a firearm.
Multiple Convictions for Domestic Violence
Penalties increase if there were prior convictions for assault and battery, malicious wounding, or aggravated malicious wounding against a family or household member. If you have had three or more convictions within a period of 20 years, your charges can be elevated to a Class 6 felony, which brings a potential prison sentence of up to five years or up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.
A domestic assault conviction can also mean you cannot possess or carry a firearm under federal law. You may lose a security clearance that could affect your job, and your immigration status also could be endangered.
Domestic violence lawyer Cody Villalon knows how the repercussions of a conviction for domestic violence can ruin a person’s life and will do everything possible to build a defense that results in a lesser charge or a dismissal.
Don’t delay. You can access the best defense possible when you work with a domestic violence attorney. Call Attorney Villalon now at 804.316.0765.
How to Fight a Domestic Violence Charge in Virginia
Defense Strategies We Use to Help Your Case
When you are faced with domestic violence charges, it’s essential to do everything possible to avoid a conviction. Depending on the circumstances, common defense strategies include:
- Lack of Evidence of Domestic Violence. Often allegations of domestic violence are just that – someone claims you abused them, and there are no marks or bruises or witnesses to show that the violence took place. We can argue that the alleged incident did not happen, that there was no domestic violence, and that the family member is making a false allegation.
- The Incident Was Accidental. Accidental, non-reckless touching is not considered a battery.
- The Incident Was in Self-Defense. If you were not the primary aggressor and were being attacked by a family member, even if that person is smaller, you are entitled to defend yourself.
- Arresting Officers or Prosecutors Did Not Proceed According to Law. However, when it comes to domestic violence, there is an exception to the normal Virginia law that requires officers to first obtain an arrest warrant or witness the event. If a police officer has probable cause to suspect that you committed assault and battery against a family or household member or violated a protective order, the officer may arrest you and take you into custody without a warrant.
- Defense of Others. This can occur when your actions were made toward a family member to protect children. In Virginia, a person does have the right to use violence in defense of others as long as the act is proportionate and reasonable compared to the assailant’s level of violence.
Domestic Violence Defense FAQs
Our Lawyer for Domestic Violence Charges Answers Questions and Addresses Concerns
Being faced with domestic violence charges is a frightening experience, as consequences are potentially severe, so it’s natural to have concerns. Here are some answers to questions Cody Villalon is often asked:
The victim wants to drop the charges. Do I need to worry?
You still need an attorney. In Virginia the victim of an assault on a family member has no right to drop the charge. The Commonwealth will often still want to prosecute you and may even threaten to charge the victim with additional charges of their own if they don’t cooperate as a witness against you. You still need the strongest defense you can get.
Who is considered to be a family or household member?
According to the law (Code of Virginia § 16.1-228), a family or household member is defined as any of the following:
- A spouse or former spouse, whether or not you live together.
- Immediate family and stepfamily members, including parents, grandparents, siblings, and children, whether or not they reside together.
- In-laws who reside in the same household.
- Individuals who have a child in common.
- Individuals and any children who have cohabited in the past 12 months.
All of these individuals constitute a family or household member for the purposes of domestic assault and battery offenses.
What happens when you get a domestic violence charge?
When called for domestic violence, police will most often make an arrest, even without a warrant for domestic violence or violation of a protective order. They will then take into custody the person believed to be the “predominant physical aggressor,” based on the circumstances, even if the other person started the fight.
Often, a protective order will then be issued by the court to “protect” the alleged victim from harm or contact.
All criminal cases go to court, and the prosecutor can require that any witness in a criminal case, including the alleged victim, not only must come to court but also must testify, even if they later decide to drop the case. Having a lawyer on your side who knows the system and how to defend you helps your chances of getting the best possible outcome in court.
What does an order of protection do?
Orders of protection generally prohibit any contact between the accused and the allegedly abused person, family or household members and children, and prohibit other communication, including phone, email, text, or social media messages.
Protective orders may also grant the family or household member possession of the premises and prohibit the alleged abuser from occupying the premises or possessing a firearm.
There are three types of protective orders in Virginia, all of which can relate to domestic violence cases, and violating them can result in an additional crime being charged and a jail sentence:
- Emergency Protective Order (EPO) – granted after an arrest or when there is reason to believe the possibility exists for future domestic violence.
- Preliminary Protective Order (PPO) – granted to alleged victims who can convince a family court judge that they or their family members are in danger of domestic abuse.
- Protective Order (PO) – granted when victims formally request the court. Formal protective orders can remain in effect for as long as two years.
Should I try to reason with my accuser?
No. Since alleged aggressors are often placed under an order of protection that forbids them from contacting the alleged victim in any way, you do not want to contact the accuser.
You could also wind up in another argument and face additional charges. It is best to avoid contact and be on your best behavior until your case is over. You should let your domestic violence charge defense lawyer handle the situation.
How much will it cost to hire a domestic violence defense lawyer?
Legal fees vary, depending on the seriousness of the charges, whether this is your first offense, the evidence against you, and the complexity of the case. When you contact Cody Villalon, we will speak to you to find out the facts and review the evidence against you and determine what will be involved to resolve the case. Our domestic violence charge defense lawyer will then work out a fee structure that allows for the time and effort needed to get the best outcome.
These are just a few questions our former clients facing domestic violence charges have had regarding their cases. If you have other questions we did not cover on this page, do not hesitate to contact a domestic violence attorney at our firm to discuss your legal options going forward.
Call Cody Villalon to Defend You Against Domestic Violence Charges
Cody Villalon believes that we are guaranteed rights under the law, but they exist only as long as there are people that are willing to defend them. As an experienced Richmond defense lawyer, he is proud of the work he does and will aggressively fight for your rights and the type of world he wants his own children to live in. He provides skilled, aggressive legal representation to ensure that his clients have been treated fairly when charged with domestic violence.
Don’t risk your future. Domestic violence charges under Virginia law can be severe and have far-reaching consequences that can impact your life for years to come; and even what seems like an innocent domestic dispute can quickly turn into criminal charges for assault on a family member, with significant repercussions.
Call an experienced Richmond domestic violence lawyer today for a free, confidential consultation and let us show you what we can do to help. The sooner you contact us at 804.316.0765, the sooner our domestic violence defense attorney can start working for you and fighting for your rights and freedom.
“Cody was very helpful in my situation and was able to get all charges dropped. Cody checked on me frequently leading up to my court. Very confident lawyer with lots of knowledge. Definitely took away a lot of stress associated with my case. I would recommend him to anyone!” – O.D. (Google Review)