Domestic Assault/Assault & Battery of a Family or Household Member
Domestic assaults are treated differently than other kinds of assaults. The first major difference is Domestic assault cases are handled in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court rather than the General District Court. There is also a first offender program for domestic assaults that will allow the charge to be dismissed after the completion of probation. There is no such program for simple assault and battery cases.
What is Domestic Assault?
Domestic Assault has almost the same elements as simple assault and battery. The only difference is that domestic assault only involves a family or household member. Simple assault and battery can involve anyone who is not a family or household member.
You can be convicted of Domestic assault for any unwanted touching of a family or household member. You could also be convicted of Domestic assault for placing a family or household member in fear of being touched in an offensive manner. In other words, you could be convicted even if you don't touch them.
What is the punishment for Domestic Assault in Virginia?
Domestic Assault and Battery is a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. That means you can get up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500.00. Receiving a fine in an assault case is very rare. The most common punishment is jail time.
Can my Domestic Assault case be dismissed if I go to anger management?
If you've never been convicted of Domestic Assault, you can probably participate in the first offender program. The first offender program allows you to complete anger management and pay court fines and costs. If you complete anger management and pay your court fines and costs and don't pick up any new criminal charges, the court will dismiss the case.
You can only participate in the first offender program one time.
What if my husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend wants to drop the charges against me?
If the police have already pressed charges against you for Domestic Assault, only the prosecutor can decide to drop the charges. Your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend cannot decide to drop the charges against you.
The prosecutor will have a victim/witness coordinator who works with the prosecutor. The victim/witness coordinator is the person who is most likely to speak with the victim of the assault about the case.
Will the charges be dropped if my husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend doesn't show up for court?
Maybe. If the only evidence against you is the testimony of the victim of the assault, then the prosecutor may be forced to drop the charges if the victim does not come to court.
However, many times there is other evidence besides just the victim's testimony. If you were interviewed by the police and made an admission, that can be enough to convict you. If the police officer took pictures of the victim's injuries or interviewed other witnesses, that can be enough to convict you. You should not assume that the case will automatically be dropped just because the victim does not come to court.
Please give me a call if you or a family member have been charged with Domestic Assault. I can help you understand the charges against you.