Prosecution of Domestic Violence Cases in Virginia
In Virginia, a domestic violence case will almost always be prosecuted after one person calls the police because of a domestic dispute at home. Once the police are called and it is brought to their attention, the police will charge the individual and arrest that person immediately. They will then be taken to jail.
If you have been arrested, and are facing prosecution for a domestic violence case in Virginia, it is imperative that you consult with a domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible. A knowledgeable attorney can help minimize any potential consequences you may be facing.
After being taken to jail, an arrest warrant and court date will follow. Once a court date is established, it is up to the prosecutor to decide whether or not the facts are sufficient to bring the case.
There is not going to be much that will happen between the arrest and the court date before a prosecutor has an opportunity to review the evidence, the credibility of the witnesses, and any other variables that they might need to consider to determine whether or not to press forward with the prosecution of a Virginia domestic violence charge.
Once an individual reaches court, if they evaluate those variables and determine that there is enough evidence to move forward, then they will prosecute. If, on the other hand, they determine that the testimony is not credible or reliable in any way, they may choose to not prosecute.
Elements That Must be Proven
For a prosecutor to convict any person of any crime, they must meet every element of that crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In the case of a domestic assault and battery, a prosecutor must prove, first of all, that the two people involved in the assault are related in some way under Virginia law that makes them domestic associates.
This could mean a spouse or an immediate family member, a person with whom they have a child in common, or even just somebody that they have lived with within the last 12 months, regardless of whether they are romantically involved, married, or anything like that. Even a roommate can constitute a domestic associate under Virginia law.
Further, the court must prove that the assault and battery took place to effectively prosecute a Virginia domestic violence charge. This can mean any offensive touching that was not welcomed by the recipient of the touching. This can be a grab, shove, push, hit, slap, kick, or anything at all that was not warranted or welcome, and was excused by some defense such as self-defense or defense of others.
If those things are proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then the prosecutor will gain a conviction in a Virginia domestic violence case.
Cross-Examining the Alleged Victim
If an alleged victim testifies, then the defendant’s lawyer will have an opportunity to cross-examine that person. Under certain circumstances, this may be advantageous because some people might have told the same story several times and either admitted or added the details that might cast doubts on the alleged victim’s credibility.
Whether or not the person’s credibility could be attacked depends on what information is able to be discovered by the attorney or the defendant during the course of their pre-trial investigation. Such cross-examination can either help or hurt the prosecution of a Virginia domestic violence charge.