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Facing a Domestic Assault Charge? Know What to Do Next

Posted by John A. Kassabian | Mar 13, 2020

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

If you are facing a domestic assault charge, getting through it can be incredibly trying. Not only is it a criminal charge with harsh penalties, but it can be incredibly disruptive to your personal life, leaving you feeling embarrassed and alienated from your family and friends. If an order of protection is leveled against you, it can leave you without a place to live, prevent you from visiting your children, and keep you from doing activities that are part of your everyday life.

Since domestic violence cases often take time, it is important that you take care of yourself as best you can while you wait for your case to resolve. Surrounding yourself with people who will support you and who you can rely on is one of the most useful things you can do. In addition, it's important to stay as positive as possible, but there are also several other things you can do that may help your case, including working with a Fairfax domestic violence attorney.


Domestic Assault Charge Overview

Under Virginia domestic violence laws, if you in any way attempt to physically harm a family member or other person living in your household who falls within the legal meaning of a family or household member, you can be charged with what many people refer to as domestic violence, but which is formally charged under Virginia Code 18.2-57.2 as assault and battery against a family or household member.

You can be charged with this crime if you harm someone by hitting or assaulting them, but also if you simply threaten to physically harm someone in your household, even if you do not actually physically hurt them.

Assault and battery against a family member is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and misdemeanor assault and battery carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and up to a $2500 fine. If you are charged with first offense assault and battery against a family or household member and your criminal record is otherwise clean, Virginia Code 18.2-57.3 allows you, at the court's discretion, to be placed on probation, usually for up to 2 years.

Typically, this will require you to enroll in a treatment or education program (domestic violence class) to help you deal with the issues that led to your domestic assault charge.

Once you have been convicted of assault and battery against a family member twice or more, you will be charged with a Class 6 felony. At this point, the penalties get much harsher and you could find yourself facing up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2500.

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a spouse or family member you harmed or threatened will often ask police how to drop assault and battery charges in Virginia, but this is where this charge becomes tricky. If police see evidence that you have committed assault and battery against a household member, they are required by law to bring the case against you, even if your family member initiated police involvement but did not want you arrested.

Since technically the police have brought the case, not your family member, there is little your family member can do to get the charge dropped. In this case, working with a lawyer is in your best interest.


Follow All Protective Orders

If you have been charged with domestic violence, the person you harmed or threatened to harm can petition for what is called a preliminary protective order, which forbids you from contacting them in any way. A protective order may also prohibit you from contacting other members of your household or family, even require you to allow your spouse or family member sole occupation of your home, provide alternative suitable housing, possession of your vehicle, exclusive use and possession of your cell phone or even possession of your companion animal.   

Although this can cause a range of obvious inconveniences and difficulties, during this time, it is essential that you adhere to the requirements of the protective order. If you are working with a domestic violence lawyer in Fairfax, review your order of protection with them to ensure that you fully understand it.

Then follow the order to a “t.” During this time, under no circumstances should you contact the person you have been prohibited from contacting, go to any location you have been forbidden to visit, commit abuse against your family member, or commit any other crime. Otherwise you are violating the protective order and can be arrested again and charged with a second Class 1 misdemeanor.

As you can imagine, this will make the successful resolution of your case in court far more difficult. The best rule of thumb during this difficult time is to keep as low a profile as possible, abide by the protective order and by all means, obtain legal advice from a skilled attorney.    


Know When a Fairfax Domestic Violence Attorney Can Help

Assault and battery against a family or household member is a serious crime, and a conviction can seriously impact your reputation as well as your ability to find employment or housing, get into college or enter the military, as it will show up in all background checks and remain on your criminal record for life. It is incredibly difficult to successfully represent yourself in court for this type of charge without being very knowledgeable about Virginia law.

Because the stakes are high in these cases, it is in your best interest to work with a domestic violence attorney in your area. A good attorney will be familiar with area judges, prosecutors and have experience in knowing how your case will legally evaluated.  This knowledge can help your attorney build a strong defense.

An experienced local attorney can often help resolve your case more readily and quickly than you may likely be able to do on your own, or potentially get your charge or penalty reduced or your case dropped, especially if you are a first-time offender facing your first misdemeanor assault and battery charge.

To find out more about how a lawyer can help you, contact Kassabian & Kassabian for a free consultation. John Kassabian has helped many people accused of domestic violence receive strong outcomes for their cases and reclaim their lives. Get in touch at 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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