What is Domestic Assault in Virginia?

What is Domestic Assault in Virginia?
Categorized: Criminal Defense

The laws of Virginia define domestic assault as assault and battery that is committed against a member of your family or household. If an individual injures, hurts, or pushes a family member, then the crime is considered to be an assault and battery. Some other examples include hitting, punching, slapping, beating, striking, etc. This law also applies if the victim felt that they were in reasonable fear of being assaulted even if no actual physical assault occurred.

This law applies to anyone who harms a present or former spouse, parents, siblings, children, or a boyfriend or girlfriend. It is not necessary for the victim to live at the same residence as the perpetrator in order to be charged with the crime. In addition, if a non-family member has lived in the same residence with the perpetrator for over a year, then it is also considered to be domestic assault, and they will be subsequently charged with assault and battery as well. When you are charged with domestic assault, you need a criminal defense attorney on your side.

Is Domestic Assault a Felony or a Misdemeanor?

Typically, in Virginia, the first time that you are arrested for domestic assault (assault and battery), the crime will most likely be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. As far as misdemeanors are concerned, this is considered to be the most serious. It potentially carries a punishment of up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.

If you are arrested for a third time in Virginia on a domestic assault (assault and battery) charge, then the charge will be bumped up from a misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. Even if the victim was not seriously injured, being charged for the third time is considered to be very serious in nature. In addition, it should be understood that cases that involve an intent to cause serious harm and therefore result in more serious injuries, such as the following, are always charged as Class 6 felonies:

  • Aggravated malicious wounding
  • Unlawful or malicious wounding
  • Malicious bodily injury by means of a substance
  • Strangulation 

How Long Does a Domestic Assault Charge Stay on Your Record in Virginia?

If you are convicted of domestic assault (assault and battery), it will permanently remain on your criminal record. The laws of Virginia do state, however, that a charge may be expunged if an individual has not been found guilty or if the charge was dismissed. However, if you were convicted and found guilty of the charge of domestic assault, the charge then becomes ineligible for expungement.

Nonetheless, for many individuals who have been charged for the first time with domestic assault, there is a First Offender program that may be offered. The program requires that you successfully complete anger management classes, probation, and maintain good behavior. Upon completion of the program, the domestic assault charge may be dismissed. However, it should be understood that completing the program in this manner does not allow for a charge to be expunged from your criminal record.

What is a Protective Order?

A protective order, also known as a restraining order, is a court order that mandates that the perpetrator not have contact with and stay away from the victim of the domestic assault and the residence. This also includes texting, calling, email, and social media messages. In Virginia, any member of a household who has been the victim of domestic assault has the ability to file a petition for what is known as a preliminary protective order which is issued to prohibit further acts of family violence.

If you have legal questions related to domestic assault, contact our law offices and speak with one of our qualified family law attorneys. We can answer your questions and assist you with understanding what legal options you may have going forward. We look forward to helping you with your case.

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