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Virginia Domestic Violence Laws & Penalties
Domestic violence, also known as family abuse in Virginia, involves force, violence, or threats of violence against a family or household member, which leads to bodily injury or makes someone believe they are in imminent danger of bodily injury.
Common examples of family members include:
- A current or former spouse
- Romantic partner
- Relatives through blood or marriage
- Co-habitants like roommates
Inflicting physical injury against a family or household member is assault and battery, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor which includes the follow penalties:
- Up to one year in jail
- Fine not exceeding $2,500
However, if you were convicted of two or more prior assault and battery offenses against loved ones, then it is a Class 6 Felony, punishable by:
- Imprisonment up to five years
- Fine not exceeding $2,500
Stalking is related crime, which is defined as intentionally engaging in conduct that places someone or a person’s family members in fear of their safety. Stalking is also a Class 1 misdemeanor; however, three or more convictions within five years will result in a Class 6 Felony charge.
Protective Orders in VA
As we mentioned before, a domestic violence arrest can lead to a protective order against you. There are three main types of protective orders:
- Emergency Protective Orders (EPO)
- Preliminary Protective Orders (PPO and Also Known as an “Ex Parte” Orders)
- A Two-Year Protective Order (PO)
An EPO is requested each time a domestic violence offense occurs and valid for at least 72 hours or until the court opens. If an alleged victim has been in danger or believes they are in such imminent danger, a judge may grant a PPO – which is valid for at least 15 days or when the next hearing is held. Lastly, both parties will have an opportunity to argue their case in a full hearing, where a judge may grant a PO that last up to two years.
- Violating a domestic violence-related protective order is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense.
- A second violation is punishable by a minimum 60-day jail sentence.
- A third or subsequent violation is a Class 6 felony.
In Virginia, a police officer may make an arrest – without a warrant – in an alleged domestic violence dispute if there is probable cause that a crime took place, a reasonable complaint from an observing party, or indications of a crime based on a personal investigation, the officer can make an arrest. The police shall arrest the primary aggressor if there is probable cause.
Committing a violent crime against a family or household member is considered domestic violence in Virginia. Although a conviction can lead to serious criminal penalties such as jail or prison time and fines, an arrest can result in being subject to a protective order. When facing domestic violence accusations, you need to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer to help you avoid conviction or get your charges/penalties reduced.
If you or a loved one has been accused of domestic violence, Ehrenworth Law, PLLC is ready to help you get the best possible outcome in your case. As a former prosecutor with over two decades of experience, our Newport News domestic violence lawyer has a thorough understanding of both sides of the courtroom and knows what it takes to protect your rights, reputation, and freedom during the legal process.