Being charged with an assault on a family member charge in Virginia can have serious 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 your 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 with defending people faced with allegations of family assault.
Domestic violence defense 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.
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 that 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.
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 don’t know what actually happened and simply chose 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 real physical evidence. There are times that charges are completely 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 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, reduce charges, or have charges dropped completely.
When you have the Cody Villalon legal team on your side, we will:
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. We 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 is also described as 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 that any person 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:
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 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.
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.
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 impose restrictions on your contact with the victim and where you can live. There may be court costs, a period of probation, 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.
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 will not be able to possess or carry a firearm under federal law. You may lose a security clearance that could affect your job, and immigration status also could be endangered.
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.
When you are faced with domestic violence charges, it’s important to do everything possible to avoid a conviction. Depending on the circumstances, common defense strategies include:
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:
You still need a good attorney. In Virginia the victim of an assault on 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.
According to the law (Code of Virginia § 16.1-228), a family or household member is defined as any of the following:
All of these individuals constitute a family or household member for the purposes of domestic assault and battery offenses.
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.
Orders of protection generally prohibit any contact between the accused and the allegedly abused person, family or household members, and children, and prohibit other contact, 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:
No. Since alleged aggressors are often times 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 you best behavior until your case is over. You should let your domestic violence charge defense lawyer handle the situation.
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.
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 extremely serious 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 major repercussions.
Call us 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.