Prince William County Domestic Violence Lawyer

A domestic violence conviction can have severe implications for your life that are not limited to criminal penalties. You also may be subjected to a protective order, which may restrict you from contacting your spouse or partner, requiring you to leave the family home, and even limiting your contact with your children.

If you are facing charges for a domestic violence offense, you should consider seeking the assistance of a Prince William County domestic violence lawyer.

Aside from the consequences of violating a protective order, you also can suffer criminal penalties that include jail time, probation, fines, and enrollment in domestic violence or substance abuse counseling and treatment.

A domestic violence conviction also can strip you of your right to possess a firearm under federal law. As a result, contacting a criminal defense lawyer for legal help may be highly advisable.

Defining Domestic Violence

Assault and battery becomes a domestic violence offense according to Va. Code § 18.2-57.2 when the target of the threats, infliction of injuries, or attempted infliction of injuries is a family or household member. To constitute a “family or household member” under Va. Code § 16.1-228, the individual must fall into one of the following classifications:

  • Current and former spouses
  • Immediate family and step-family members
  • Individuals who share children in common, and
  • Individuals who have lived together during the past 12 months, as well as their children

Those who qualify as family or household members also may be able to obtain a protective order against individuals who have committed domestic assault and battery, or any other family abuse. Va. Code § 16.1-228 defines “family abuse” as any act of violence, force, or threat that causes physical harm or places a family or household member in imminent fear of death, sexual abuse, or bodily harm. For individuals who are facing any allegations of domestic violence or family abuse, a domestic violence lawyer in Prince William County may be able to offer legal advice about how to best handle the situation.

Penalties for Domestic Violence Crimes

Domestic assault and battery is a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia law. A conviction on this charge carries a potential penalty of a maximum one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Domestic violence convictions, whether misdemeanors or felonies, also will result in an inability to possess firearms.

Those individuals who have two or more prior convictions for domestic violence crimes within the last 20 years will face a Class 6 felony charge for a domestic assault incident. The prior convictions can be for assault and battery, malicious or unlawful wounding, aggravated malicious wounding, malicious bodily injury using a harmful substance, or strangulation. All prior convictions must involve a family or household member.

A Class 6 felony offense may result in a prison sentence of up to five years, as well as a fine of up to $2,500. Felony convictions also result in the forfeiting of some civil rights, such as the rights to vote, serve on a jury, or hold public office.

Violations of Protective Orders

When individuals face criminal charges for domestic violence, they also are likely to be subjected to the terms and conditions of a protective order, which can remain in place for multiple years after a case is over. Violation of any of the provisions of a protective order can result in a contempt of court filing.

However, violation of a protective order is also a separate criminal offense according to Va. Code 16.1-253.2. Violation of a protective order generally is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense that carries at least one mandatory minimum day in jail. However, a second violation within five years that involves an act or threat of violence, although still a Class 1 misdemeanor, will require a minimum sentence of 60 days of incarceration, which is consecutive to any other sentence.

Likewise, a third or subsequent violation in 20 years that involves an act or threat of violence is a Class 6 felony that requires a minimum jail sentence of six months, consecutive to any other sentence. Since the penalties for violating a protective order may be harsh, contacting a domestic violence attorney in Prince William County may be beneficial.

Let a Prince William County Domestic Violence Attorney Assist You

Domestic violence convictions carry the potential for a significant range of severe penalties, whether they involve an assault and battery or violation of a protective order. If you are facing criminal charges related to domestic violence, a Prince William County domestic violence lawyer may be able to assist you.

The penalties that you may face for a domestic violence conviction may damage you personally and professionally. Avoiding or minimizing the potential penalties may be easier if you obtain legal representation.