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Fairfax Criminal Defense Blog

New Changes to Virginia Protective Order Laws Begin July 1

Posted by John A. Kassabian | Aug 19, 2020

Man and woman arguing
Domestic violence is more likely during COVID-19.

July first marked a lot of landmark changes to Virginia laws, encompassing everything from marijuana decriminalization to gun safety. HB1004/SB 479, which just passed into law, was designed to reduce increasing rates of intimate partner homicide in Virginia by requiring those subjected to permanent protective orders to turn over their firearms. While you may not think this applies to you, domestic abuse reports in Northern Virginia have been on the rise as we spend significant time indoors with our families due to coronavirus. As tensions continue to run high, it is essential to understand this new law to avoid facing serious penalties. I'll tell you more about the changes below, and when a Fairfax domestic assault lawyer may be able to help your case. If you are in need of help, don't hesitate to contact Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C.

Things to Know About New Protective Order Laws

The new laws are designed to decrease gun violence and reduce domestic abuse. They are largely in response to Virginia's increasing rates of intimate partner homicide, where firearms are the most common weapon responsible.

With the passage of HB1004/SB479, anyone subject to a 2-year protective order, whether it be a family abuse protective order or an act of violence protective order has 24 hours from the time they were served with the protective order to relinquish their firearms. Acceptable methods of relinquishing a firearm include selling or transferring it to someone who can legally possess it, or turning over the weapon to local law enforcement. (They will store it for you according to procedure and return it to you after the protective order ends.) If you fail to turn over your weapon within 24 hours, you will face a Class 6 felony.

In addition to turning over your weapon, you must show the court written certification that you did so within 48 hours of being served. If you fail to provide written certification, you will be found in contempt of court. This means a judge can act immediately to resolve the issue. Under the previous law, noncompliance resulted in a Class 1 misdemeanor, requiring law enforcement, the victim, or someone else to get a warrant for noncompliance before action could be taken.

When to Seek Legal Help

There are many scenarios where you could find yourself in a situation where you need a lawyer for an issue with a protective order. If you have been served with a protective order and you were not aware of the new law, did not turn in or sell your firearm on time, or failed to certify any of this in writing, you will be subjected to costly fines, additional jail time, and other penalties. An experienced Fairfax domestic violence lawyer may be able to help you get your penalty or jail time reduced, depending on your circumstances.

In addition, if you are facing a domestic abuse charge, it is in your best interest to seek legal help. Working with a lawyer will almost always result in an improved outcome in court compared to what you could face on your own. Because these types of convictions can be life-changing, working with an attorney is among the best ways to reduce their impact.

Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C. has been handling domestic violence cases for over 25 years. John Kassabian knows that all people deserve justice, regardless of their crimes, and treats of his all clients with compassion and respect.

To find out more about how he can help, 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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