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FIRST OFFENSE VS. REPEAT OFFENSE: DOMESTIC ASSAULT AND BATTERY IN VIRGINIA

Posted by John A. Kassabian | Dec 07, 2021

Being charged with domestic assault and battery in Virginia can upset your life even if it's your first offense—but your second or third offense could lead to stiffer penalties.

Consult with legal counsel, such as John Kassabian of Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C., in Fairfax, VA, to understand how multiple domestic assault and battery charges could affect your life. If you're a first offender, a criminal defense lawyer can also help you determine the best response.

REPEAT OFFENDERS PUBLISHED MORE SEVERELY

First offenders may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to twelve months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. However, it is possible for an offender to be placed on probation if the court determines that proceedings should be deferred.

To be eligible for such a deferment and probation, the offender must be (1) an adult at the time of the commission of the offense; (2) must not have been previously convicted of any offense relating to an assault or assault and battery against a family or household member; (3) must not previously been convicted of an “act of violence” as defined under Virginia Code Section 19.2-297.1 (“acts of violence” include first and second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, mob-related felonies, kidnapping, abduction, malicious felonious assaults, malicious bodily wounding, carjacking, criminal sexual assaults that are punishable as a felony, arson when the structure is burned when occupied, and any conspiracy, principal in the second degree or accessory before the fact to commit any of the above listed acts of violence); (4) the offender must not previously have had a proceeding against him or her dismissed pursuant to this same code section; (5) the court must find that evidence is sufficient for finding guilt; (6) the offender must consent to the deferred finding; and (7) the offender waives his or her right of appeal to the court's finding of facts sufficient to justify a finding of guilt if there is a subsequent finding for violation of a term or condition of probation.

The probation period lasts for two years and requires that the offender successfully complete education and treatment programs deemed necessary by the court. This typically involves completion of the Anger and Domestic Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program (ADAPT).  ADAPT is a state-certified intervention program that involves an 18-week education group that teaches emotional regulation skills to prevent future abuse.

For the deferred charge to be dismissed, the offender must fulfill all terms of their probation successfully, complete the court ordered education and treatment program, be of good behavior (not incur any violations of the law), and pay the court costs associated with the proceedings.  Anyone who violates probation terms, to include picking up additional criminal charges, is subject to a finding of guilt for the domestic assault and battery and punishment of up to twelve months in jail and/or a $2,500.00 fine.   

Though the court may choose to focus the consequences for some first-time offenders on rehabilitation, repeat offenders can be charged with a Class 6 felony, punishable by one to five years in jail.

DOMESTIC ASSAULT PLUS VIOLATION OF PROTECTIVE ORDER

If you were to find yourself in a situation where it's alleged you are the primary aggressor in a domestic assault on a family or household member in addition to being subject to either an emergency protective order or preliminary protective order, your life could feel as it has just been turned upside down and will never be the same.  

Let's say, for example, you and your spouse got into a disagreement that escalated to interpersonal violence. Neighbors called the police, the police determined you are the primary aggressor in the altercation, and you are the person arrested. Due to the charge and severity of your spouse's injuries, a protective order is issued where you are ordered (without even having an evidentiary hearing) to vacate your residence, to not have contact with your children, to forfeit the use of the household vehicle to your spouse, and even give up possession of your cat or dog! You may feel bewildered, overwhelmed, and not know how to proceed.

A Virginia criminal defense lawyer can be an invaluable resource during this confused and complicated time. Fairfax domestic assault and battery attorney John Kassabian can help you understand the process, why certain detailed circumstances matter to your case, and how to proceed with a defense.

If you've been charged with domestic assault and battery or violating a second, third or even a fourth protective order offense, your punishment will carry a harsher sentence to include a mandatory minimum term of conferment, in comparison to a first offense violation. Having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney in Prince William County acting on your behalf can help.

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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