Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys
What is domestic violence?
When the police receive a report of an alleged domestic dispute, officers will respond to the location of the reported incident and conduct an investigation. Upon arrival, the officers will speak with anyone involved and anyone who witnessed the dispute. Witnesses will often provide conflicting statements. The police will look for injuries and information which supports or contradicts the stories they may receive. After gathering statements, evidence and information, the police must make a decision as to which party is the aggressor and which party and story they believe. If the police determine an assault took place, the individual they believe to be the aggressor will be arrested and removed from the scene.
People are arrested and charged with domestic violence arising from many different types of incidents. A verbal disagreement which escalates to physical contact, false allegations of physical abuse, and minor altercations can result in arrest and prosecution.
If arrested and charged due to an incident involving a spouse, child, significant other or roommate, a prosecutor will be assigned to handle the case. Even if the alleged victim wants to drop or dismiss the case, it is the prosecutor and not the alleged victim who controls and decides potential outcomes and plea offers. If you have been arrested and charged due to false or exaggerated allegations, the decision to drop the case does not rest with the individual who made the allegations.
Disputes between family members may escalate to a physical altercation or lead toallegations of domestic abuse. Domestic violence is a very serious criminal offense in Virginia. A conviction on these charges will have significant ramifications for all parties involved. Leary Law provides representation to individuals facing domestic violence charges.
What can I expect from working with a Domestic Violence Attorney
At Leary Law, our top-rated Virginia domestic violence defense attorneys are committed to providing superior legal representation to our clients. We understand how difficult and sensitive these cases are for all parties. If you or your loved one was arrested and charged with domestic violence in Northern Virginia, we are prepared to help. Contact our law firm today to set up a confidential, free consultation.
Domestic Assault and Battery – What charges could I receive?
Under Virginia law (Code of Virginia § 18.2-57.2), domestic violence is defined as “assault and battery against a family or household member.” To convict a person of domestic violence, Virginia prosecutors must prove:
- The alleged victim of the incident is a family member or a household member
- The incident involves unwanted physical contact, intentional harm, or a threat of harm
To be clear, this means that a defendant can potentially be convicted of domestic violence even if there was no physical contact or harm to the victim. Communication of a threat of harm intended to place someone in fear for their safety can result in arrest and prosecution.
How is Domestic Violence different from Assault and Battery
Assault and battery is different from domestic violence based upon how Virginia punishes repeat offenders. Domestic violence charges focus on the relationship between the parties involved. In addition, the penalties for domestic violence can also be different.
In an assault and battery case, Virginia Code Section 19.2-151 allows an alleged victim and defendant to reach an agreement referred to as an Accord and Satisfaction. This type of agreement permits the parties to agree to ___________ and present their agreement to the court. The court is then permitted to dismiss charges against a person being held for the alleged crime. This doctrine is commonly known as accord and satisfaction. In domestic violence cases, however, this provision does not apply.
To understand the domestic violence charges, consult with an attorney at Leary Law to understand your rights, what could happen in court and what penalties may be imposed.
Who is a ‘Household Member’?
Virginia law defines ‘household member’ broadly. A defendant can be charged with domestic violence if they are alleged to have committed an assault and battery against any of the following parties:
- A spouse or former spouse, regardless of living situation
- The parent who they share children with, regardless of marital status or living situation
- Immediate family members, regardless of living situation
- People who they have resided in the same home with during the previous 12 months
Will I go to jail for domestic violence?
On the trial date, all parties involved in the case will be present in court. The prosecutor will speak with the police officers involved in the case. They will also speak with the alleged victims. An attorney for the defendant has the opportunity to speak with the prosecutor to understand the prosecutor’s position on the case and the attitudes and desires of the police and the alleged victim.
A domestic violence charge carries the possibility of jail time, a fine. First time offenders can receive up to a year in jail, up to a $2500 fine and various probation requirements to include Anger Management classes, mental health and substance abuse evaluation and treatment. Repeat offenders face additional penalties to include a conviction for a felony and substantially more jail time.
Understanding the penalties which may apply in a domestic violence case is crucial to knowing how to proceed. Should a defendant choose to go to trial, accept an agreement.
Why Choose the Criminal Defense Lawyers at Leary Law
You need to have the best domestic violence defense lawyer on your side. At Leary Law, we handle every case with the sensitivity and professional care that it deserves. Among other things, our Fairfax, VA domestic violence defense lawyers will:
- Conduct a confidential review of the domestic violence charges;
- Answer your questions and explain your options to you;
- Carefully investigate the case, gathering all relevant evidence; and
- Build the most effective legal defense.
Every domestic violence case is different. In some cases, defendants face wholly false charges. Unfair charges must be defended aggressively. We are prepared to fight to get false or trumped up charges dismissed outright. In other cases, our Virginia defense lawyers will focus on reducing punishment and finding the best resolution that keeps our client out of prison and protects their future.
How do I defend myself against a Domestic Violence charge?
Meeting with one of our Domestic Violence Attorneys is the first step to understanding how to build a defense in your case. Our firm will obtain from you detailed information regarding your recollection of the events and any evidence like photos or videos which you may have to support your case. After a lengthy consultation, it may be necessary to request 911 calls, police reports, photographs from other witnesses or to hire a private investigator to assist with interviewing potential witnesses.
To be convicted of domestic violence, the prosecution has the burden to prove that evidence exists to support each element of the offense. Therefore, an attorney defending a domestic violence case must review carefully the potential evidence in the case. Challenging the evidence in court can occur after a thorough interview of a defendant charged with the crime. Virginia law allows a defense attorney to make a request for discovery in the case to understand what evidence the prosecution may present to support the charge.
An assessment of the prosecution’s case includes reviewing whether the police conducted their investigation as required by the United States and Virginia Constitutions and gathered evidence in a manner which did not violence an individual’s constitutional rights. This assessment applies to police action to obtain statements from questioning an individual or a police search of an individual or their home or property to obtain evidence. If statements or evidence were obtained in violation of the Fourth, Fifth or Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, this can provide a basis to challenge the evidence in court.
To challenge the constitutionality of statements or evidence, a suppression motion must be filed with the Court. If the Court grants the motion, the evidence is suppressed and may not be used at trial. Should that occur, the case could be dismissed for lack of evidence.
Self-Defense in Virginia
If an individual charged with a crime acted in self-defense, a court will not hold that individual responsible for the crime. Proof of self-defense comes from witness testimony and other sources depending on the incident. A careful examination of the facts of each case is necessary to determine if self-defense is available as a shield.
Call our Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
At Leary Law, we have extensive experience handling domestic violence cases. We firmly believe that every defendant deserves professional and attentive legal representation. To arrange a fully confidential initial consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us today. With offices in Fairfax and Manassas, we serve clients throughout the Northern Virginia region, including Arlington, Alexandria, Annandale, Chantilly, Centreville, Fairfax, Falls Church, Herndon, Leesburg, Sterling and Springfield.