It’s a chaotic time after any kind of fight’s taken place and you’re either charged, or think you may be charged with a crime, let alone when the incident involves domestic assault. You can easily find yourself caught up in a whirlwind of information and legal jargon that it’s hard to think straight, let alone form a plan of action for the days ahead.
We’ve tried to drill down what we think is some of the core information you’ll need to understand about Assault & Battery against a Family Member in Virginia. While it’s not an exhaustive list, hopefully it will provide at least a little plain English understanding on what we think is important to know. We’ve also included the direct legal codes so you can see for yourself word for word how the system works.
- ‘Assault’, ‘Battery’ and ‘Family Member’ all have very specific meanings in the legal system
‘Assault’ means you don’t have to have actually done an act of violence against someone, just that there was real intention of it happening, whereas ‘battery’ is a committed act. This means you can be charged with assault even if you feel you never meant for anything to happen. (VA Code § 16.1-228)
- Family member doesn’t have to just mean your mom or your wife.“Family member” is a fairly large umbrella term, and can mean in-laws or even step-family. It can even mean a person you’ve lived with for the last 12 months, whether or not you’re married or are formally dating. Since there are a couple of important differences between a general assault and battery charge and a domestic abuse charge, it’s important to understand why you’ve been charged with what you have.(VA Code § 16.1-228)
- Assault & Battery is an intentional act not done in like-for-like self-defense.With assault and battery, you have to intend to hurt someone. Say you tripped over and fell into someone who then broke their arm … of course that’s not battery. If someone is about to hit you and you hit them back, you’re defending yourself, whereas, if you took out a gun to defend yourself, that would then become assault.
- When an Assault & Battery charge is issued, usually the judge will pass what’s called an ‘Emergency Protective Order’ over your family.The order lasts for three days, during which you can’t have any contact with the family members named in the order. That person also gets temporary (for those three days) possession of any shared living spaces you have together, like your house or your apartment, as well as care of any animals. This counts even if they’ve left the house.An emergency protective order can be extended, too, either by the alleged victim or the police if they feel like there could be a problem.Breaking the protective order is also treated as Class 1 misdemeanor, and breaking it more than once will end in a minimum 60 day jail sentence. More than three times, and it’ll turn into a Class 6 Felony.
- What’s the maximum fine for Assault & Battery against a Family Member?Without any prior convictions, the maximum fine for Assault & Battery against a Family Member is $2,500, and the maximum jail sentence is 12 months. At the jury or court’s say, it can be either or both.(VA Code § 18.2-57.2.)
- Do previous convictions matter?As a first time offense, Assault & Battery against a Family Member is a Class 1 misdemeanor. At two prior convictions for any similar kind of crime this jumps up to a Class 6 felony, meaning you could face one to five years in prison as well as the $2,500 fine.(VA Code § 18.2-57.2.)
- Can I get an ‘Accord and Satisfaction’ with an A & B against a Family Member?Unlike other Assault & Battery charges, you can’t get an ‘Accord and Satisfaction.’ An Accord and Satisfaction is when the person being charged offers to compensate the victim in return for them going before court and asking for the case to be dropped. In domestic violence cases, however, it can’t be done.(VA Code § 19.2-151)
Were You Charged with Domestic Assault & Battery?
Of course this isn’t the be-all-end-all when trying to understand your Assault & Battery case. However, it can serve as a basic jumping off point to allow you to better understand the hows and whys of being charged with Domestic Assault & Battery against a Family Member and make better, more informed choices going forward. If you’re seeking aggressive representation in your case, contact The Firm For Men’s domestic assault attorneys. The Firm For Men is a family law firm committed to serving men exclusively in the Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton and Newport News areas. To explore more of your options, contact us today at 757-383-9184 for a consultation.