Like other states, Virginia prosecutors and police take allegations of domestic abuse seriously. For this and other reasons, many Alexandria residents may face charges related to domestic violence.
In reality, any squabble at home can easily get to the point where one person accuses the other of domestic violence.
With no aggravating circumstances, a first-time offense of assault and battery against a family or household member is a misdemeanor offense in Virginia. There are some circumstances in which authorities might file a felony charge related to domestic violence, even against a first-time offender.
Although a misdemeanor, Virginia authorities are required to make an arrest if they believe a person has committed domestic assault and battery.
Jail time is still a possibility even after a misdemeanor offense, and the accused may also face other penalties like fines, probation or mandatory counseling.
It is also possible that the accused will have to obey a protective order, even if doing so means he or she has to move out of his or her home.
There are other significant long-term consequences to a conviction
There are other serious consequences that might follow after any domestic violence conviction even if the person manages to avoid any lengthy jail time.
Under federal law, for example, those convicted of crimes related to domestic violence may lose their right to possess or own a firearm and will have to find another home for their guns. This law does not take into account the specific circumstances of a conviction.
If the person convicted is subject to a custody or parenting time order, he or she may lose important custodial and visitation rights after a conviction.
Also, many jobs and other social and economic opportunities are not available to those with conviction for domestic violence. Those who are not citizens of the United States may even lose their permission to remain in the country after a domestic violence conviction.