All families fight sometimes. However, when the fighting escalates to violence, the perpetrator may be charged with domestic assault. Under Virginia Code Sec. 18.2-57.2, domestic assault, a Class I misdemeanor, is essentially defined as an assault and/or battery against a family member or member of the household.
An assault typically requires an overt act; an intent to put victim in reasonable fear of imminent harm; and the ability to cause immediate harm. A battery typically requires direct or indirect contact with another person; or unlawful and willful touching in a rude or angry manner.
A family member or household member may include:
- A current or former spouse.
- A parent, grandparent, sibling, child, or grandchild.
- People who live together.
- People who share a child together.
- People who have lived together in the past year.
- In-laws residing in the same house.
A first-time domestic assault and battery offense may result in up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 fine.
Protective orders can be used to protect alleged victims
If someone alleges that they are being threatened or abused by a family or household member, the court may grant them an order of protection. Virginia courts will grant an order of protection to protect a person from acts of family abuse including:
- Bodily injury or threat of bodily injury.
- Sexual assault.
There are several types of protective orders including Emergency Protective Orders, Preliminary Protective Orders, and Protective Orders. The purpose of a protective order is to prevent the alleged abuser from having contact with the family member or household member protected by the order. Violating a protective order is a Class I misdemeanor and may result in up to one year in jail.
If you are facing domestic assault charges or charges for violating a protective order, consider speaking to a criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can develop an effective defense strategy to fight the charges you face. For example, your attorney may help establish that you were acting in self-defense or that you never committed the act.