In Virginia, a physical fight or even an argument with a reasonable threat of violence can result in charges of assault or assault and battery. If the fight or argument is against a family member, someone you live with, or someone with whom you have a child, the charge would be domestic assault. 

Domestic assault is a class 1 misdemeanor that carries the risk of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.   If it is charged as a third or subsequent offense, it is a class 6 felony a potential risk for up to 5 years in prison. In some cases, these charges can harm a security clearance for work or an immigrant’s legal status in the United States. 

You need a lawyer on your side who will work to protect your interests in court and in your life outside of the courtroom. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your assault case or any other crime of violence with Jennifer Raimo, call her office at (703) 591-4868.

A DOMESTIC ASSAULT CANNOT BE SETTLED OUT OF COURT

The person who is alleged to be the victim of a domestic assault loses all discretion about whether or not to prosecute the moment the police are called.  From that point on, this decision is the state’s choice. Police officers are required to arrest someone every time they respond to a domestic violence call and cannot just let it go.  Our legislature has authorized the parties to settle their differences with a judge’s approval by accord and satisfaction but specifically Prosecutors represent the Commonwealth of Virginia, not the alleged victim.  They are supposed to take the victim’s interests into consideration but often ignore a victim’s request to drop the charge.

A victim who is reluctant to testify should speak with an independent lawyer about what their rights and duties are with respect to a prosecution for domestic assault.  The defense attorney who is representing the accused cannot give legal advice to the victim. The prosecutor represent’s the state’s interests, which may or may not be the same as a victim’s interests.  The victim witness advocate is primarily interested in persuading the victim to cooperate with the prosecutor and not in advocating for what a reluctant victim wants. An independent attorney is the only person who is qualified to look at the case from the alleged victim’s perspective and explain victim’s rights and responsibilities without any duty to protect anyone else’s interests.

If you’re charged with domestic assault, you need a lawyer to help you in court.  Don’t go to court expecting a prosecutor to drop the charge or a judge to dismiss the charge just because you or your loved one wants that to happen.  You could lose more than you realize.  For more information about domestic assault charges, click here to download a free report about domestic assault charges or call us at (703)591-4868 to schedule a free analysis of your case.  

 

THE FIRST OFFENDER DIVERSION PROGRAM CAN BE A GOOD DEAL OR

THE BEGINNING OF A REAL NIGHTMARE.

First offenders are often offered the opportunity to participate in a diversion program.  The program requires the accused to pay the court costs for the case, complete an anger management program and 2 years of probation, avoid any new criminal convictions for 2 years.  If all those things happen, the court will dismiss the charge but it can never be expunged from your criminal record. Some courts, like Prince William County, require the defendant to be personally present in court for the dismissal.  Other courts, like Fairfax County and Loudoun County will schedule the dismissal on an administrative docket and dismiss it in chambers without requiring anyone to be personally present in court.

Immigrants should be very cautious about entering into the diversion program even if they are guilty of domestic assault.  Like most diversion programs, the defendant is typically required to plead guilty or acknowledge the facts are sufficient to find you guilty in order to participate in the program.  However, a guilty plea or acknowledgement will make the program the equivalent of a conviction for immigration purposes. That leaves the immigrant facing deportation proceedings and makes the program worthless to many immigrants who don’t want to leave the United States.  

If you’re charged with domestic assault, you need a lawyer to help you in court.  Don’t go to court assuming a diversion program will fix your problems.  You could lose more than you realize.  For more information about domestic assault charges, click here to download a free report about domestic assault charges or call us at (703)591-4868 to schedule a free analysis of your case.