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Fairfax Criminal Defense Blog

2020 Virginia Protective Order Law Updates

Posted by John A. Kassabian | Dec 07, 2020

Close-up wooden gavel lying on desk.
Virginia protective order laws carry harsher punishments in 2020.

Virginia protective order laws have seen some significant changes in 2020. Amendments to several Virginia statutes have put new measures in place to better protect victims of violent crimes by handing down harsher punishments to those who violate protective orders. I'll tell you more below, as well as when a Fairfax domestic violence attorney may be able to help if you are charged with domestic assault against a household or family member.

Amendments Lengthen Protective Order Timelines

Under the previous law, many types of protective orders could be issued for up to a maximum of two years. During this time, a victim or other petitioner could file a written motion to request that the order be extended. If the extension was granted by the court, it could be extended for two years to protect the safety of the petitioner or their household members. An unlimited number of extensions were allowed.

The new changes to the protective order laws, however, apply to those who are convicted of an act of violence, as defined under Virginia Code 19.2-297.1. Acts of violence that commonly result in protective orders include first- and second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping and abduction felonies, malicious felonious assault or malicious bodily wounding, felony criminal sexual assault, and arson of an occupied structure.

Under the new laws, if the victim of a violent act, or an attorney for the Commonwealth, requests a protective order against a convicted assailant, it can be issued for any reasonable amount of time, up to the lifetime of the defendant. Additionally, the original protective order can be extended as the court sees fit to protect the victim, and can be continually extended. In essence, the changes to the law allow for lengthier protective orders from the start.

What is and is not considered a violent act is sometimes unclear, and in these cases a Fairfax domestic violence lawyer may be able to help the convicted person receive a reduced sentence or punishment.  

Protective Order Violation Penalties

Anyone who is convicted of a violent crime who violates a protective order will be charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor. This can result in up to 12 months in jail, up to a $2500 fine, and a permanent mark on your criminal record.

Needless to say, if someone has a protective order against you, it is imperative that you follow it. This can be difficult in some cases, as it requires you to stay away from not only the person who filed the protective order, but from their home, pets, and children. A protective order can even prevent you from using your vehicle, which can create extreme challenges. While this may be a difficult situation, it is significantly less difficult than what you will face if you are found guilty of violating the protective order. Try to avoid situations that could challenge you to violate the order, and make sure you do not commit any other crimes while it is in place.

If you are charged with a violation, working with a domestic violence attorney serving Fairfax can potentially help your case. Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C. has been defending the rights of Fairfax citizens for decades, and John Kassabian is committed to ensuring that everyone receives the justice they deserve, regardless of their crime.

If you are facing a protective order violation and want to learn more about the potential outcomes of your case, get in touch with John today for a free consultation.

Call 703-750-3622.

About the Author

John A. Kassabian

John A. Kassabian joined the family firm in 2002 after having served as a Prosecutor in Fairfax County and Prince William County. Specializing in criminal defense, traffic defense and civil related matters, John has an extensive criminal law background and has handled a wide variety of cases for ...

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