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Domestic Violence: Do You Know the Seriousness of the Charge?

Domestic Violence: Do You Know the Seriousness of the Charge?

If you have been charged with domestic violence you likely believe that you understand the seriousness of the charge. Generally when the police are called to address a domestic dispute, one of the parties is arrested if there is any evidence of domestic abuse. If you’ve been charged, you likely spent the night or a few hours in a jail cell. After such a traumatic experience you may believe that the worst is behind you. However, you may soon find that your nightmare is just beginning unless you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Domestic assault and battery in Virginia is punished by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500. The court can also order that you be on probation and require domestic violence, anger management, and/or substance abuse classes. A third offense of domestic violence can be treated as a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $2,500 and can include an even longer probationary period with more classes. Once you have been convicted, the conviction remains on your record for the rest of your life and is a matter of public record. In addition, according to federal law anyone convicted of even a first offense domestic assault and battery can never possess a handgun. Depending on the severity of the offense, the prosecutor may charge the case as an elevated offense including unlawful wounding, malicious wounding, aggravated malicious wounding, or even attempted murder. Finally, based on the conviction the victim may acquire a protective order requiring that you have no contact with the victim and their family members, and to remain away from the victim’s house. In many cases this may result in an individual not being able to see their children or live at their home. As you can see, that night in jail may be the least of your concerns after being charged with domestic assault and battery.

In order to protect yourself, you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. You may believe that you can handle the matter yourself as the act in question was minor or the victim has promised to drop the charges. Unfortunately, in Virginia, a battery is any offensive touching against another person without that person’s consent. A simple push or grabbing of the arm can and often will be considered a battery even if no injury resulted. Further complicating the matter is the fact that the decision to bring charges lies with the prosecutor and not the victim. In other words, the victim cannot “drop the charges”. This decision is made by the prosecutor who may not be inclined to drop the charges based on the victim’s wishes.

A skilled criminal defense attorney will defend your case in court or negotiate the matter with the prosecutor to ensure that the charges are either dismissed or reduced. In many domestic violence cases, the victim is emotional and upset at the time of bringing charges. This can lead to exaggeration or outright lies by the victim. A defense attorney can subpoena witnesses and evidence to defend you in court and ensure that you have the best chance of winning your case. An attorney can also negotiate the case with the prosecutor to have the charges dismissed, possibly upon condition of the completion of domestic violence or anger management classes. Having an experienced advocate fighting for your rights can mean the difference between going to jail with a conviction and having the charges against you dismissed and going on with your life.

The attorneys of The Irving Law Firm have extensive experience in the field of domestic assault and battery defense. We will listen to your individual situation and work with you to defend your rights and resolve the case against you. At The Irving Law Firm we understand that a domestic violence conviction can be a traumatic experience in your life and we will stand beside you throughout this difficult process.

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