Virginia Domestic Violence Lawyer
Domestic violence in Virginia is defined as physical abuse, verbal abuse, or emotional abuse. All fall under this same umbrella term, domestic violence, when it comes to the law. Various laws and criminal codes have been put together to govern these types of actions, though statistics suggest that many domestic abuse cases actually go unreported. Physical abuse is reported more often than emotional or verbal abuse due to the fact that it sometimes necessitates a trip to the hospital and causes follow-up questions to be asked.
What ties these various types of abuse together is the fact that they are usually directed at another member of the person’s family, their main domestic unit. When these things are directed at strangers, they are known by various labels, such as:
- Verbal abuse or harassment
- Assault and battery
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated assault
- Numerous other terms, depending on the specifics.
When these actions are directed at family members, though, the term “domestic violence” is used to describe any of the offenses listed above.
On both ends of the crime, a Virginia domestic violence lawyer should be involved in the case. If a person wants to report the crime and then press charges, he or she will need a lawyer to make sure that the case gets through court and that the appropriate penalties are assessed. If a person has been accused of such charges, he or she also needs a lawyer to fight for a fair trial and that the charges are substantiated. In cases where domestic violence is reported even though it did not take place, a lawyer may be able to get the dismissed due to lack of evidence, testimony that is shown to be inaccurate, and other factors related to this nature.
- Domestic Violence Laws
- Protective Orders
- Monetary Compensation
- Getting a Lawyer
Domestic Violence Laws
When looking at domestic violence in Virginia, it is important to consider the language of §16.1-228, which states that family abuse is any act involving violence, force or threat toward another member of the family that leads directly to injury or reasonable apprehension of injury. This action can include holding the person against his or her will. The injuries could be mental, physical, or emotional. Also included in this section is that a threat alone can be taken as abuse, even if that threat is never fulfilled. Therefore, if the accused stated that he intended to kill the victim, for example, the victim can report the crime before any action has taken place.
§16.1-228 defines what is considered to be a family member under Virginia state law. An official family member could be a spouse of the accused. They could also be a former spouse who is now either divorced or estranged. Despite no longer be recognized as a couple, they are recognized as a family unit in this case. A family member could be anyone who is related by blood, including brothers, sisters, parents, those characterized as step-brothers or steps sisters, and similar relations. They could also be those not related by blood, such as in-laws. On top of that, a family member could be defined by the law as a person who has a common child with the accused, even if they are not bound by marriage, or a person who simply cohabits that home with the person, or who did so in the last 12 months. Finally, the children of an cohabitant are also considered family, regardless of marital status or blood relations.
A Virginia lawyer can point you to overall statistics for domestic violence in the state of Virginia for the year of 2010. During this year, studies have shown that the amount of homicides that fall into the category of domestic violence that resulted in fatalities rose as much as 19.4 percent from the previous year. When considering victims of violent crimes, the numbers rose by only 1.4 percent, but those who were shown to be victims of domestic violence increased by 8.6 percent from 2006 to 2010. Also during this time, acts of domestic violence against older people, those who are at or above age 65, when up by 35 percent. Finally, 2010 saw 24,072 arrests of people who were accused of violence toward family members in general.
A lawyer in Virginia could also show you the total statistics by their overall numbers, rather than the rate of increase. Over a 10 year period from 1999 to 2009, as many as 1,520 people were killed by violent episodes with family members or people they were dating. Approximately 139 of these deaths took place in 2009 alone. This was out of a total number of just over 400 homicides. In all, 19,033 violent crimes were reported in Virginia in 2010, and it has been shown that 15.3 percent of them, or 2,855 events, were the result of domestic violence. This also does not consider the amount of crimes that went unreported, which is generally assumed to be higher than the amount of unreported crimes when family members are not involved.
For governmental assistance with an abusive person, you can look into a number of different protective orders. A Virginia domestic violence lawyer can help you choose the type that is right for your situation. These will make it illegal for the person to come within a certain distance of you, meaning that the abuse will stop. If the person then breaks these rules and the abuse continues, they will be subjected to more jail time and fines based on the fact that they violated the order.
A standard protective order, which is governed by §16.1-253.2, does not bring about charges and jail time on the order alone, but rather compels a person do not contact another by a civil court order. The person will not be punished unless they break the order. §16.1-253.4 deals with emergency protective orders. An officer of the law can contact a judge, or put you in contact with a judge or magistrate, if you believe you are in immediate danger, but this is a short-term order that only lasts for three days. Finally, you may need a permanent protective order, as established by §16.1-279.1. Despite its name, this order only lasts for two years in Virginia, though you can ask for it to be extended after that point if this is warranted.
While there could be further punishments, such as jail time, that stem from the charges that are pressed during the domestic violence case, it is also important to look at the various situations in which monetary compensation could be required. If you have been accused of domestic violence in Virginia and you are found guilty, the victim could then sue you for any of the following:
- A loss of wages or earnings as a result of the attack or the subsequent injuries
- Mental health counseling that is needed after the assault took place
- Medical bills directly related to injuries sustained
- Expenses for cleaning up the home, apartment, car, or other personal property that was damaged. These expenses could include the cost of cleaning up an investigated area that was defined as a crime scene
- Expenses for a funeral in the event of a death
- The cost of moving, as deemed reasonable by the judge
- Pregnancy costs if a rape occurred and resulted in said pregnancy
- Loss of financial support
- Counseling that is needed for children, even if they were not harmed physically, if they witnessed the events
- Further direct expenses resulting from the actions taken, as presented to and approved by the presiding judge
The fines that have to be paid in criminal court will not be attributed to these expenses. The accused may be facing both criminal fines and monetary compensation at once, along with court fees.
As noted, punishment could extend further than the expenses and fees that are listed above if the case goes to criminal court and the charges are upheld. Naturally, there are a lot of discrepancies in what can be assigned as a punishment since the specifics of the crime have to be considered. Crimes against children often carry greater punishments than those against adults, for example, despite their both falling under the realm of domestic violence. Crimes that resulted in the death of another person will be judged more harshly than those where death did not become a factor. A Virginia lawyer can go through all of the various details to make sure that the punishment fits the crime; this can be rather complicated in extensive cases where many crimes occurred over a period of time.
If a person is convicted of domestic abuse of a family member, it will classify, for the first offense, as a Class 1 misdemeanor. They could see as many as 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500. However, it is not common for a first offender to receive a deferred sentence for first offender probation. If the person is convicted of the same thing three times or more in a period of just 10 years, they will be charged with a Class 6 felony. They could see five years in prison for this crime.
It is easier for individuals to work with a Virginia lawyer who is close to home, especially when dealing with domestic violence charges. Our firm offers services in many locations throughout Virginia. Contact us at any of the following locations when you need our assistance.
Alexandria has a higher crime rate than the national rate that considers all cities and towns, but the crime rate is lower than that which can be seen in many cities of similar sizes. As far as violent crimes that could take place in the home are concerned, the raw odds of becoming a victim are about 1 in 500.
An Arlington lawyer will tell you that there were only 1.59 violent crimes in the city for every 1,000 residents last year. This city is in the lower 37 percent as far as overall safety is concerned, at least when compared to the rest of the United States. However, that makes it higher than some of the other cities in Virginia, such as Norfolk.
The whole state of Virginia only has just over 17,000 annual violent crimes, and the levels in Brunswick are lower than those found in larger population centers. However, a Brunswick lawyer can help you file a case if you have been a victim of one of these crimes. The lawyer can also offer professional advice and assistance if you are being accused of domestic violence.
With 35 annual violent crimes, Fairfax is in the bottom 31 percent when considering safe places to live. A Fairfax domestic violence lawyer can help you break down these 35 crimes based on the victims to see an accurate representation of the amount of crimes that took place in the home. The majority of those crimes may not even qualify as domestic violence, making Fairfax safer in that sense than the raw numbers would suggest.
Fauquier has shown a growing crime rate in recent years, with more murders and similar crimes than were documented just 10 years ago. One report showed growth over a five year period of nearly 21 percent. If these numbers continue trending in the same direction, there could be more than 1,000 annual crimes in the next five years.
Hanover ranks in the bottom 24 percent when weighed against the rest of the country. There were only 26 violent crimes last year, which a Hanover County domestic violence lawyer will tell you is attributed in part to the low population.
While domestic violence does take place in Loudoun County, it has one of the better rates in Virginia. These rates have also been falling for the past year, indicating that it may become one of the safer places to live in the state.
Prince William County
In the past, Prince William County has shown a violent crime rate, including assault, of about 26 crimes per 1,000 people. This may not make it the safest place in the country, but it does actually make it safer than Virginia as a whole, so the odds of becoming a victim are much lower than in other areas.
Even though it has only 11,000 residents, a Richmond domestic violence lawyer will tell you that there were about 1,500 violent crimes in the city last year. This comes out to 7.49 crimes per 1,000 people, meaning that the odds of being a violent crime victim in the city are rather high.
Under 200 violent crimes were reported to the sheriff’s office last year, though the largest percentage of these were assault charges. A lawyer in Spotsylvania County can help you file charges and get a restraining order if you have been assaulted by a family member and can assist you in choosing the right type of protection order.
Tidewader is a large area, but certain parts of it rank in the lower 5 percent of the nation for safety. The odds of victimization for residents sit at around one out of every 166 people, or six out of every 1,000 people, both of which are higher than the state average.
Getting a Lawyer
No matter which side of the crime you are on, you need to get a lawyer in Virginia if domestic abuse has occurred in your household.