Dale City Domestic Violence Lawyer
Legally speaking, domestic violence is a strange crime because it focuses not on the conduct, itself, but rather on the relationship between the accuser and the accused. Practically speaking, though, an allegation of domestic violence in Dale City is very serious, both because the penalties that you can face are severe and because of the strong social stigma against someone who has been accused. While being accused of domestic violence is a terrible thing to go through, a conviction is even worse. There are ways to defend yourself, though. Hiring a Dale City domestic violence lawyer to be at your side throughout the ordeal is one of the ways you can ensure you are doing all that is possible to beat the charge. Call a skilled criminal defense attorney and schedule an appointment immediately.
Laws Governing Domestic Violence
The laws regarding domestic violence in Dale City are found in numerous places. The main statute, though, is Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-57.2. This statute prohibits the crime of assault and battery against a “family or household member.” It also outlines the penalties that come with a conviction under the statute.
Assault and Battery
Understanding the statute detailing domestic violence, though, requires a basic understanding of what assault and battery entail. In Dale City, battery is an intentional contact that is either harmful or offensive. Importantly, the harm does not have to be severe for a contact to be a battery—only a minimal amount of pain or discomfort suffices. Furthermore, what is considered offensive often depends on the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident.
Assault, on the other hand, is deliberately making someone else fearful that they are about to suffer a battery. If the battery is punching someone in the face, then, an assault would have occurred when the recipient saw the punch being thrown. Therefore, a missed punch would end with an assault, but not a battery. A landed punch from behind would be a battery, but not an assault.
Family or Household Member
Domestic violence, however, requires the assault or battery to be done to a particular class of people: Members of the defendant’s family or household.
This class of people is defined at Va. Code Ann. § 16.1-228, and includes an accused person’s:
- Current or former spouse
- Siblings and step-siblings
- Parents and grandparents, including stepparents
- Children and grandchildren, including stepchildren
- In-laws that live in the same residence
- Child’s other parent
- Cohabitants from the past year, including a cohabitant’s children
Possible Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction
A conviction for domestic violence in Dale City comes with serious penalties, particularly if there have been similar convictions in the past.
Normally, a conviction for domestic violence is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This comes with up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. However, if there have been three or more convictions for domestic violence in the past ten years, a subsequent charge is elevated to a Class 6 felony. This comes with up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Additionally, a conviction is often accompanied by restraining orders and other collateral consequences, as well. A Dale City domestic violence lawyer could mitigate the penalties that a person may face.
Talking to a Dale City Domestic Violence Attorney
If you have been accused of domestic violence, it is crucial to raise an effective defense. Not only are the penalties severe, but the collateral consequences are wide-ranging and debilitating for people who want to live a full life.
Hiring a Dale City domestic violence lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected.