Fairfax County Domestic Violence Lawyer

Domestic violence is an issue that Virginia legislators have taken very seriously. As a result, the penalties for a domestic violence conviction can be harsh. If accused of involvement in an incident of domestic violence, you may need the services of a Fairfax County domestic violence lawyer.

If police officers suspect that individuals have committed assault or battery against a family or household member, or violated a protective order, the officers can immediately take the individuals into custody without a warrant.

The officers can make the arrest based on uncorroborated statements by the targets of the alleged domestic violence. Consequently, you may wish to take immediate steps to deal with the aftermath of domestic violence by contacting an intelligent criminal defense attorney immediately.

Domestic Violence Offenses

The Virginia Code § 18.2-57.2 establishes domestic assault & battery as a separate criminal offense when committed against ‘family or household members.’ This offense includes threatening, physically injuring, or attempting to harm family or household members physically.

As defined in Va. Code § 16.1-228, a “family or household member” includes current and former spouses, immediate family and step-family members, individuals who share common children with the accused, individuals who have lived with the accused during the past 12 months, as well as the common children themselves.

Domestic assault and battery is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and a conviction could result in up to one year in jail, a fine not to exceed $2,500, and a new protective order lasting up to two years. Since the consequences of a conviction can be harsh, including the inability to possess firearms under federal law, consulting a domestic violence lawyer in Fairfax County may be beneficial.

Deferral Program for First-Time Domestic Violence Charges

For a first-time offense, Va. Code § 18.2-57.3 permits a judge to defer the proceedings without a finding of guilt and place the individuals on probation. To qualify for deferred proceedings, the individuals must be adults who have:

  • No previous convictions for domestic violence assault and battery
  • No prior convictions for an act of violence, or if they do, the attorney for the Commonwealth does not object to the deferral
  • No previous deferrals of a domestic violence offense that resulted in dismissal, and
  • Consented to the deferral and waived their rights to appeal a finding of facts that would substantiate a conviction of the charges

As part of the deferral process, a community-based probation agency will assess the need for services and monitor the individuals to ensure that they complete all required educational programs and treatments. The individuals also will be responsible for paying some or all the costs of these services, and maintaining general good legal behavior for two subsequent years.

Penalties for Repeat Domestic Violence Offenses

If individuals have two previous convictions for various crimes involving family or household members within the past 20 years, the offense becomes a Class 6 felony. As a knowledgeable attorney could explain, these criminal offenses include and are not limited to:

  • Assault and battery
  • Malicious or unlawful wounding, or aggravated malicious wounding
  • Malicious bodily injury using a harmful substance, and
  • Strangulation

A Class 6 felony conviction carries the potential for a prison sentence ranging up to five years, as well as a fine of up to $2,500. As a domestic violence attorney in Fairfax County may advise, a felony conviction also will cause the loss of some civil rights, including the right to possess a firearm and to vote.

Get Advice from a Fairfax County Domestic Violence Attorney

With the many criminal penalties and collateral consequences listed above for a domestic violence conviction, individuals in these situations often become subjected to protective orders, which can prohibit contact with the affected family or household members. Violation of a protective order based on domestic violence is also a criminal offense with separate penalties, including at least one mandatory day in jail.

A Fairfax County domestic violence lawyer may be able to explain all of the possible repercussions of a domestic violence conviction and violation of a protective order.

The stakes are high in domestic violence cases, which can make a strong defense crucial. Legal representation from the outset of your case can place you in a better position to resolve a domestic violence incident more favorably and predictably than otherwise.