Fairfax Domestic Violence Attorneys
Family Abuse Charges in Virginia
If you are arrested for domestic violence, you may go to jail. Furthermore, you may be separated from your family and prohibited from living in your own home. If you are not a citizen, you face removal (deportation) as a result of this charge, even if it is dismissed on conditions.
At Lawrence, Smith & Gardner, we understand how important it is for our clients to avoid these harsh consequences. We have extensive experience helping people throughout Fairfax and Prince William Counties with their most critical criminal defense issues. If you have been accused of domestic abuse or violence, reach out to our firm right away to learn how we can help.
Contact us online or by phone at (833) 460-2848 to speak with a knowledgeable Fairfax domestic violence defense lawyer.
How Is Domestic Abuse Defined?
Virginia defines “family abuse” as any act of violence, including force and threats of violence, against a family or household member. To be considered family abuse, the act must either result in bodily injury or cause the victim to reasonably fear being injured.
By law, a family or household member is defined as someone who is either a relative of the alleged offender or someone who lives in the same house as them.
This includes but is not limited to:
- People in romantic relationships
- Domestic partners
- Ex-domestic partners
- Siblings, including stepsiblings and half-siblings
- Aunts, uncles, and cousins
- In-laws (who share a household)
- People who have lived together in the last year
Many acts against these and other individuals may constitute domestic violence. Some examples include:
Note that a person can be charged with family abuse in Virginia even if no one was injured. If the victim claims that they feared they would be injured or otherwise harmed by the defendant, this may be enough to warrant family abuse charges.
How Is Family Abuse Charged?
Different types of domestic violence offenses are charged differently under Virginia law. For example, violating a protective order (restraining order) typically results in misdemeanor charges. Assault and battery against a family or household member can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, and strangulation is nearly always charged as a Class 6 felony in Virginia.
While misdemeanors tend to carry lesser penalties than felonies, both types of charges can have a significant impact on your life. If you are convicted, you could face jail or prison time, including mandatory minimum sentencing. You may also be made to pay thousands of dollars in fines, be put on probation, and be ordered to pay restitution to the victim(s).
Additionally, being convicted of family abuse can result in you losing certain rights, such as your right to own or possess a firearm, as well as your right to retain custody of your child. In some cases, being convicted of certain family abuse crimes can result in the loss of your ability to even see your child, or you may be ordered to have supervised visitation only.
A domestic violence conviction will also almost certainly impact your reputation and your future. You will have a public criminal record, which can be viewed by any potential employer, landlord, lender, or anyone else with access to the internet. This can make it extremely difficult to keep or obtain a job, find housing, or receive a loan.
What Is a Protective Order?
A protective order is the official term for a restraining order. Such orders are often granted by the court when a person claims that they are the victim of domestic violence. In Virginia, a judge may grant someone an emergency protective order, a preliminary protective order, or a protective order. Each of these orders accomplishes something different, but a protective order can last up to two years.
If someone files a protective order against you, you are prohibited from doing certain things. You cannot contact the individual who received the protective order in any way, including in person, by phone, through the internet, or by mail. You may be prohibited from contacting members of their family or their friends. You may be required to leave your home, and you will likely be unable to see your minor children while the protective order remains in place.
Having a protective order filed against you does not mean that you will go to jail. However, if you violate the terms of the order in any way, you risk being charged with contempt of court. This can result in significant criminal penalties, including jail time and fines.
How the Domestic Violence Lawyers at Lawrence, Smith & Gardner Can Help
We understand the urgent nature of your situation. Often, these cases involve heightened emotions, contentious relationship dynamics, and “he-said, she-said” arguments. At Lawrence, Smith & Gardner, our goal is to protect your rights and help you avoid the serious consequences of a family abuse conviction.
The sooner you act, the better. We encourage you to contact our Fairfax domestic violence attorney right away to discuss your case and the potential defenses available to you. We offer completely free and confidential consultations, either in person or over the phone/virtually.
You can reach us online or by calling (833) 460-2848.
At Lawrence, Smith & Gardner, your satisfaction is our priority! See for yourself what our clients have to say about working with us.
Dear Mr. Brillantine and Mr. Smith,
Thank you so much for your time and effort in the past several weeks. I am forever grateful for your help! Thank you.- Previous Client
Dear Mr. Smith,
I just wanted to drop you a note to express my thanks and appreciation for your professional and courteous help and service. The efficient way you and your staff handled my case, resulted in less anxiety for me.- Previous Client
Dear Mr. Smith,
We just want to thank you for all your help in our son’s recent traffic case. Things were looking extremely bleak. However, thanks to your knowledge of the law, persistence, ability to talk to people, hard work and grace … What a relief it has been. We also appreciate the courtesy and professionalism of your wonderful staff.- Previous Client
I am consumed with awe for your legal maneuvering to assist me in court yesterday. Thank you for making it possible for me to continue with my life.- Previous Client
To Ron Smith,
I just wanted to extend my gratitude to you for representing me earlier this month when I went back to court to obtain my restricted license. I appreciate the courtesy and professionalism from you and your staff and under no circumstances hope to ever need your services for a serious matter like that again.- Previous Client
Dear Mr. Smith,
Thank you for all your help. Please extend my thanks also to Martin for his patient support of an incoherent client, as well as to Lisa for her many phone calls. Thanks for that usually elusive gift … a second chance.- Previous Client
I can’t thank you enough for everything. If it weren’t for you I would be in a world of hurt today. I owe you so many thanks. If you ever need anything!! Please pass along all my thanks to your staff and co-workers. Please let Lisa I’m so sorry you missed her lunch too. Thanks again Ron you ROCK!- Previous Client
Dear Mr. Smith,
I wanted to tell you how grateful I am for your help with my recent difficult situation. I was amazed at your skill and knowledge of the court system, and appreciative of your insight in these matters. I can look back on this experience as a valuable lesson and continue on with my life. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.- Previous Client