Arlington Domestic Violence Lawyer

Domestic violence occurs between household and family members and under Virginia law, it is a serious criminal offense with harsh consequences. If law enforcement authorities accuse you of committing a domestic violence offense, you may face severe ramifications. You may be able to better protect yourself and your rights by contacting an Arlington domestic violence lawyer for legal advice and representation.

A domestic violence conviction can leave you with a permanent criminal record that can impact your ability to find employment and housing. Your record also may eliminate your right to possess firearms and make you subject to a protective order, which can affect your rights to child custody and visitation.

A well-practiced defense attorney may be able to help you avoid or minimize some of the potential consequences of a domestic violence conviction.

Domestic Violence Offenses

Many different criminal offenses fall into the category of domestic violence when they involve family or household members. Va. Code § 16.1-228 defines family and household members as any of the following:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Immediate family and step-family members
  • Any persons who share a child
  • Any persons and their children who have lived together within the last year

One of the most common domestic violence offenses under Va. Code § 18.2-57.2 is assault and battery. Assault occurs when individuals intentionally act in a way that causes others to fear immediate contact that is offensive or harmful. Consequently, the assault may result from individuals making threats to inflict injuries or cause physical harm to others.

As an accomplished attorney could explain, battery also includes any offensive and potentially harmful physical contact. The battery does not have to be severe or result in severe injuries; it can include any contact that others regard as offensive. As a practical matter, any battery also consists of an assault.

Potential Penalties for Arlington Domestic Violence

Under Virginia law, assault and battery against a family or household member is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Conviction on a Class 1 misdemeanor assault and battery charge can result in a jail sentence of up to one year and a maximum $2,500 fine. A domestic violence conviction also will prohibit individuals from possessing any firearms.

Three or more convictions for domestic violence crimes within 20 years will result in Class 6 felony charges. These convictions are not limited to domestic violence assault and battery convictions.

A domestic violence lawyer in Arlington may be able to advise individuals of all the potential consequences of a domestic violence conviction, whether the conviction is for a misdemeanor or a felony.

For a Class 6 felony conviction, individuals may face a prison sentence of between one and five years. A judge or jury also has the discretion to order a jail sentence of up to one year, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. Aside from forfeiture of firearms possession, a felony conviction also may remove other civil rights, such as the right to vote and hold public office.

Protective Orders and Domestic Violence

Aside from criminal charges, individuals accused of domestic violence may become subject to protective orders. These are civil orders that family and household members may be able to obtain to protect them from further domestic violence incidents or family abuse.

Under Va. Code § 16.1-228, family abuse is an act of violence or threats that result in physical harm or place family or household members into imminent fear of injury, sexual abuse, or death.

A protective order can last for up to four years in some cases. This order can place limits on individuals from having contact with family and household members, which includes children. A domestic violence attorney in Arlington may be able to help individuals avoid the harmful effects of being subject to a protective order.

An Arlington Domestic Violence Attorney Could Help

Domestic violence offenses have both criminal and civil consequences. A conviction for domestic violence can result in imprisonment, fines, loss of civil rights, and an inability to have custody or visitation with your children.

An Arlington domestic violence lawyer may be able to help you handle both civil and criminal proceedings related to domestic violence.

Working with legal counsel may enable you to build a strong defense against charges of domestic violence and the implementation of a civil protective order. By getting legal help early on in your situation, you may put yourself in a better position to fight the charges against you.