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Fairfax Criminal Defense Blog


Posted by John A. Kassabian | Jan 18, 2022

Chaos and confusion often accompany domestic assault and battery situations. In Virginia, domestic assault and battery charges have serious and immediate consequences. If you have been identified as the primary aggressor in the assault of a family or household member, your entire world could be turned upside down.

Having a criminal defense attorney will help you move through the steps that follow such a charge. A knowledgeable attorney, such as John Kassabian of Kassabian & Kassabian, PLC, in Fairfax, VA, will work with you to develop a defense. One strategy may be that you acted in self-defense or used reasonable force to prevent a family member from causing injury to themselves or someone else.


When police officers are called out to investigate or render assistance with a domestic assault and battery in Virginia, they will arrest the person that they determine is the primary aggressor right then and there—whether or not the person determined to be the victim actually made the call to the police or even requests that charges be pressed.

Because domestic assault and battery is a criminal charge in Virginia, the victim cannot drop the charges against the defendant. That is left to the discretion of the prosecutor, who may decide to go forward with the case even if the victim does not want to proceed. Protection of the victim, who may feel intimidated by the defendant is part of the reasoning behind this.

As soon as the arrest is made, the dominoes fall. The defendant faces charges, may be asked to evacuate their residence, pay for alternative housing for the victim, adhere to protective orders that could limit access to children, or give up personal possessions or even pets (all depending on the situation).

The charges are serious; first offenses result in a Class 1 misdemeanor, while repeat offenders are charged with a Class 6 felony. Class 1 misdemeanors carry a punishment of up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. A Class 6 felony results in one to five years in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.


What if confusion at the scene led the police officer to reach the wrong conclusion, arresting someone as an aggressor when really, they had been trying to stop the violence? Police officers use information they gather at the scene—including severity of injuries, environmental factors, and more—to make their determinations, and it is possible that they can make errors.

Let's say that the call to emergency services was made by a neighbor who misinterpreted events and thought that the person yelling was the aggressor—when in fact, that individual was attempting to stop physical violence on someone else's part. That misinformation could lead responding officers to follow an incorrect investigative path that ends in the wrong person being arrested.

For a defendant to build a self-defense case, injuries should be consistent with their account. For example, the defendant must have sustained defensive injuries. Information given at the scene and on 911 calls is also compared to the defendant's story and claims. If everything seems consistent with self-defense, it may be best to proceed with a domestic assault and battery defense.


John Kassabian of Kassabian and Kassabian, PLC, can help those accused of domestic assault and battery develop a defense in Prince William County or Fairfax County. He can help you figure out if your claim that you acted in self-defense is strong enough to use as a defense. Contact John now for a free consultation.

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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