Richmond Domestic Violence Lawyer
Knowledgeable Richmond Domestic Violence Attorney Ready To Serve You
Have you been accused or involved in a domestic violence matter? If so, it is imperative you obtain experienced and reliable legal counsel as soon as possible. Virginia courts treat domestic violence charges very seriously, and you must ensure that you are adequately represented by a competent Richmond domestic violence attorney with a proven track record of defense experience in order to protect your rights.
Every individual has the right to defend themselves in court, but within the Richmond area, this is almost never a wise decision over utilizing a skilled domestic violence firm. At Alexander Law Office, P.C., our domestic violence representation is aggressive and overwhelming for the prosecutor. With over 25 years of practice, we at Alexander Law Office, P.C. have learned to be open and honest in our opinions about client options and penalties.
At Alexander Law Office, P.C., our committed domestic violence lawyer understands you are likely looking for security in your choice of working with us. With this in mind, we carefully explain to you the relevant laws and domestic violence process. We always provide our Richmond area clients with realistic expectations of outcomes in their cases.
Domestic Violence Charges in Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia designates domestic violence as a subcategory of assault and battery. However, the state distinguishes it from the traditional legal classification per the guidelines set forth in VA Code § 18.2-57.2. This guideline stipulates that any individual who commits assault and battery against a family and/or household member is subsequently guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a potential punishment of up to a one-year prison sentence and a $2,500 fine.
The key distinction between classic assault and battery and domestic violence is the manner in which the state prosecutes repeat offenders. Whereas a third assault and battery conviction within a 20-year window generally receives the same penalty as the preceding charge, a third domestic violence conviction in the same period is routinely treated as a Class 6 felony, which usually carries a penalty of one to five years in prison with a 30-day mandatory minimum (i.e., no early release) and enhanced financial penalties. These are complicated and serious matters. Contact our highly experienced Richmond domestic violence lawyer today to discuss your case.
If someone files a criminal report that alleges you perpetrated a domestic violence offense, law enforcement personnel can place you under arrest without obtaining a warrant if they have probable cause that assault or battery occurred. I can assist you in fighting any false accusations and protect your freedom by:
- Challenging/lifting protective orders
- Gathering mitigating/exculpatory evidence pertaining to the alleged offense
- Drafting and issuing subpoenas for witnesses to strengthen your case
- Deposing/questioning your accuser
- Filing and negotiating a plea
A domestic assault charge not only has potentially negative and significant legal and financial implications, but it can also greatly impact your personal life as well. For example, a domestic violence conviction may mean you lose the right to own or possess a firearm or forfeit your parental rights to child custody and visitation. As an experienced Richmond domestic violence lawyer, I can assist you with, first, clearly explaining the charges against you and the full extent of potential legal consequences; and then, secondly, devising an effective, well-reasoned trial strategy in which your rights are protected and you will reduce the chances of facing negative legal ramifications.
My accuser says she wants to drop the charges, so I have nothing to worry about, right?
Unfortunately, this is a common but inaccurate assumption made by those charged with domestic violence. When the person who called 911 changes their mind and decides to “drop the charges,” it seems to stand to reason that the charges would, in fact, be dropped. But that is not necessarily the case at all.
What people fail to realize is that, once that 911 call is made what happens to the accused is no longer in the hands of the alleged victim. When the police arrive at the scene, they typically believe the “victim” without much actual investigation – then they safeguard the victim by arresting the accused individual. After the arrest is made, the prosecutor takes over. If the prosecutor decides to file charges (very common), then the entire scenario is now in the prosecutor’s hands.
So at any time after the arrest, if the alleged victim states that they no longer wish to press charges, the prosecutor can do one of two things:
Proceed – They can proceed with the prosecution anyway and compel the alleged victim to appear and testify through a subpoena. This happens in a large percentage of the cases.
Drop the Charges – Every prosecutor certainly has the option to drop the charges once the alleged victim changes their mind. However, this is not a “given” by any stretch of the imagination. They will likely assess the strength of their case without the cooperation of the alleged victim and proceed if they think they have a chance of winning.
Who qualifies as a “household member” for purposes of domestic violence?
A household member under Virginia law can be:
- Married people
- People who cohabitate, or have a relationship similar to marriage
- People who have children together even if not married
- The children of any of the above relationships
Common Defenses against Domestic Violence Charges
Criminal lawyers typically select from two types of defenses against domestic violence charges: (i) the alleged violence never occurred at all and the evidence is insufficient to establish that it did, and (ii) the violence occurred, but it was justified under the circumstances. The following are some common defense strategies:
Directly Challenging the Evidence
The evidence against you may consist of eyewitness testimony, medical evidence, photographic evidence, etc. Your attorney might, for example, try to discredit the alleged victim’s testimony against you by, say, finding inconsistencies within his or her testimony or inconsistencies between the victim’s testimony at a deposition and his or her courtroom testimony. Alternatively, he might show that the injury couldn’t have happened the way the victim said it did.
Self-defense is a defense against domestic violence charges if your partner used violence against you first and you were still under threat at the time you used defensive violence. You might also be entitled to self-defense if your partner was merely threatening to use violence – by picking up a baseball bat and swinging it at you, or (if your partner is stronger than you are) cocking their fist, delivering a verbal threat and moving toward you in a threatening manner.
Alleging Defense of Others
Defense of others is also a legitimate justification for the use of violence. In domestic violence cases, this defense frequently arises when the accused partner intervenes to prevent the alleged victim from, for example, battering the couples’ children. In certain cases, even the threat to use violence against a third party can justify the use of violence to prevent the person from carrying out the threat.
Remember, in all cases where the use of defensive violence is justified (self-defense and defense of others), the use of violence must be proportionate to the provocation. For example, in many cases, you are not entitled to use deadly force (such as a gun) in response to being attacked with non-deadly force.
Call us today!
If you find yourself facing domestic violence problems, be sure to rely on the over 20 years of experience offered by Alexander Law Office, P.C.. We strive to ensure our clients of the Richmond area are well represented and knowledgeable in their cases and situations. Do not hesitate to call our Richmond domestic violence attorney at (804) 355-0016.