Domestic assault and battery charges are considered significant violent crimes and come with severe penalties. Because it is alleged that one family or household member harms another and there is a family dynamic involved with this type of charge, domestic assault and battery charges are challenging and unique in nature. Domestic assault and battery charges are not something to been taken lightly or to shrug off. They can have harsh repercussions and serious consequences for your future and your family, making it crucial that you protect your rights and freedom and consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience in representing individuals who have been charged with domestic relation crimes.
At Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C., our criminal defense attorneys are highly experienced with representing clients who have been charged with domestic assault and battery crimes. We understand the heavy penalties these charges carry and are dedicated to fighting for the best possible outcome in court. We recognize, appreciate and understand that domestic assault and battery cases come with the added emotion and stress of close family members being involved and we always demonstrate the utmost compassion and professionalism.
What Does Domestic Assault & Battery Mean?
If you have been charged with domestic assault and battery, it is important that you understand the meaning of the three parts of the charge: assault, battery, and family or household member.
An assault occurs when: a person who has the present ability to cause bodily harm commits an overt act intended to place another person in fear or apprehension of bodily harm and the act creates in the other person a reasonable fear or apprehension of bodily harm. Virginia law recognizes that an assault addresses a person's overt act(s) and that words alone can never amount to an assault of any kind. Equally recognized is that words alone, no matter how grievous or insulting, are never justification for assault by force or violence. Virginia Code Section 18.2-57.
A battery occurs when: a person willfully touches another person without legal excuse or justification and the willful touching is done in an angry, rude, insulting or vengeful manner. Virginia Code Section 18.2-57.
A family or household member is: the person's spouse, regardless of whether or not he or she resides in the same home with the person, the person's former spouse, whether or not he or she resides in the same home with the person, the person's parents, stepparents, children, stepchildren, brother, sister, half-brothers, half-sisters, grandparents, and grandchildren regardless of whether such person reside in the same home with the person, the person's mother-in-law, father-in-law, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law who reside in the same home with the person, or any individual who has a child in common with the defendant, whether or not the person and that individual have been married or have resided together at any time, or any individual who cohabits or who, within the previous twelve (12) months, cohabitated with the person, and any children of either of them residing in the same him with the person. Virginia Code Section 16.1-228.
Common types of domestic assault and battery include one spouse physically hurting another, or an adult harming a child. A variety of physical incidences can constitute a domestic assault and battery. A slap, shove, spit, push or even a trip under certain circumstances may be enough to be considered a domestic assault and battery. There is no legal requirement that physical harm occur to another person for one to be charged or convicted of a domestic assault and battery. Domestic assault and battery may also arise out of the same facts and circumstances as other related criminal charges such as rape, robbery, abduction, kidnapping, strangulation, sexual assault, child abuse, preventing one from using the phone to call the police, protective order violation, or other criminal acts.
Domestic Assault & Battery Penalties
The penalties for a domestic assault and battery finding are set forth in Virginia Code Section 18.57.2 and 18.2-10. Domestic assault and battery is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries a punishment of up to 12 months in jail and and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Whether a person who is convicted of a first offense domestic assault and battery receives an active period of jail is dependent on the facts and circumstances of the case, the actual and extent of injury caused, criminal record and other circumstances. As set forth in Virginia Code Section 18.2-57.2 and 18.2-10, three (3) or more convictions for domestic assault and battery in a 20-year period will elevate the crime to a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. The prior domestic assault and battery convictions can be from different jurisdictions in Virginia, but the offense must have occurred on different dates.
There are also significant collateral consequences associated with a domestic assault and battery conviction in that the court may order a two-year family abuse protective order pursuant to Virginia Code Section 16.1-279.1, with potential significant terms and conditions. You will also be unable to own, possesses, transport, sell, purchase or receive a firearm or ammunition. The inability to possesses a firearm will have significant adverse consequences to those individuals who are employed or aspiring to be employed by law enforcement, military or security personnel positions
What Is A Domestic Assault And Battery Deferred Finding
Under Virginia Code 18.2-57.3, first-time domestic assault and battery offenders may be treated with more leniency. In lieu of jail time, a fine and a conviction for domestic assault and battery, they can be placed on probation with the court for a 2-year period, complete a domestic violence education or treatment program, be of general good behavior and commit no further violations of the law, have no contact with the victim of the domestic assault and battery complaint and follow other possible court ordered requirements. Upon fulfillment of the terms and conditions of the court and payment of court costs, the court will discharge the person and dismiss the domestic assault and battery charge. While a deferred finding provides a path for a dismissal of the domestic assault and battery charge and allows you to possess a firearm after the charge is dismissed, you cannot statutorily obtain an expungement of the police and court records stemming from a domestic assault and battery deferred finding pursuant to Virginia Code Sections 18.2-57.3 and 19.2-392.2.
Depending on the specific facts and circumstances of your case, a deferred finding may be a favorable disposition in your case. However, you may still be found guilty of the domestic assault and battery and may possibly serve a jail sentence should you not abide by all terms and conditions of the deferred finding court order or should you pick up additional charges and or convictions during the 2-year probationary term of the deferred finding. Moreover, for immigration purposes, a deferred finding may have significant adverse immigration consequences. Whether you are a first-time or repeat domestic assault and battery offender, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced domestic assault and battery attorney
How to Defend Against a Domestic Assault & Battery Charge
Defending against a domestic assault and battery charge is not easy, especially if the victim has visible bruises or scars to prove the violence occurred. However, there are legal defenses your attorney may be able to explore and present to protect your rights and to achieve a favorable disposition. Closely scrutinizing all material witnesses, gathering evidence, filing for discovery, subpoena duces tecum (a subpoena to produce documents), obtaining relevant medical records, phone records and or other recordings are some of the steps that may be legally taken in building a defense strategy. Depending on your case, the attorneys at Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C., may be able to demonstrate that the domestic assault and battery never occurred, or that you acted in mutual combat, in self-defense or in defense of others. To mitigate the penalties as much as possible and to strive for a dismissal, you should choose an experienced domestic assault and battery attorney who will not only negotiate your case for a possible favorable resolution, but also when necessary, skillfully try your case and fight by your side in the courtroom.
Start Building Your Case With Kassabian & Kassabian, PLC
Because domestic assault and battery charges may lead to jail, fines, and adversely affect your reputation, employment, and freedom; preparing for court with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is crucial. John Kassabian has the experience, knowledge and is dedicated to help you present a strong defense in court and to fight for a favorable outcome.
His experience as a criminal defense attorney and a former prosecutor for Arlington County and Prince William County has given him an in-depth understanding of the legal process and know how in defending against domestic assault and battery charges. John will closely review your case in detail to ensure a strong defense is presented for the best possible outcome.
If you've been charged with domestic assault and battery, don't wait. Contact Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C., today!