Penalties for Domestic Violence in Virginia

Posted By David L. Carlson, Attorney At Law || 9-Dec-2015

Have you recently been accused of committing domestic violence or family abuse? If so, it’s critical that you become familiar with Virginia’s penalties for domestic violence, whether or not you are actually guilty of the offense.

Usually, a domestic violence case begins when a victim, family member or neighbor makes a 911 call to the local police. In Virginia, the police have the authority to arrest a domestic violence suspect without a warrant if there is probable cause that an assault or battery has occurred against a family or household member.

Whenever the police have reason to believe that a domestic violence has occurred, they are legally required to arrest the individual suspected of the crime.

Also, a victim can file for an arrest warrant by contacting the magistrate themselves. A magistrate may issue an arrest warrant based on a victim’s sworn statement or other evidence, such as physical injuries, photographs, or witness statements.

A family abuse or domestic violence case can end up in court as a civil or criminal matter; a case becomes criminal when the perpetrator of the violence is jailed or found guilty and ordered to comply with certain conditions.

Defining Family Abuse

In Virginia, “family abuse” or domestic violence refers to any act involving violence, force, or a threat including a forceful detention, which either results in physical injury or places one in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury, and is committed against a family or household member.

In Virginia, domestic violence or family abuse is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • A $2,500 fine

If a defendant has three or more convictions for domestic violence within 10 years, the crime is elevated to a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. While prior convictions in other jurisdictions in Virginia count, the convictions must have occurred on different dates.

Contact a Richmond criminal defense attorney from Carlson & Collier to learn more about your possible defenses, the different types of protective orders, and how protective orders can affect child custody.

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