Domestic violence assault cases in Fairfax, Virginia are treated differently than simple assault. First of all, if the parties are considered to be family or involved people who are considered to be family or household members, then the jurisdiction will be in the juvenile and domestic relations court.
There are other issues that surround these types of cases because people live together so there’s going to be issues about where the person charged will be living. Oftentimes, you will see once a person is arrested for domestic assault and battery, the magistrate will also issue what’s called an emergency protective order, which means that persons cannot have contact with the victim or the household for three days. So that’s one distinction.
Also another distinction is a third offense for domestic assault and battery is a class 6 felony in Virginia. So the first two are misdemeanors but the third one is considered a felony.
In domestic assault and battery cases, for a first offense, there is a specific statute that allows for an individual to plead guilty to the offense and be supervised on probation for two years to be able to earn a dismissal of the charge. So that is something unique that you’ll see in a domestic assault case versus a simple assault for an assault and battery case.
They are heard specifically in the juvenile and domestic relations court. They do have special resources that the prosecution and the police department give towards these cases because they are types of crimes that involve repeat behavior. There could be multiple calls for service to a home so there is a concern for public safety. They routinely have victims’ advocates that will reach out to the complaining witness to follow up with them to make sure that they have services that they might need. All of those things are different from other assault cases.
In addition, they have detectives that work for the police department that will follow up on the investigation after the arrest. This means that there are a lot of resources spent on the prosecution side to develop their case.
The prosecutors are going to anticipate that complaining witnesses are going to be nervous about coming to court or they might not want the individual prosecuted for various reasons. They receive training on how to develop a case and be prepared for those cases in, which the complaining witness is uncooperative. They have ways that they can try to still prosecute the case regardless of the complaining witness’s testimony. So that is also something that is different and is something that defense attorneys have to be able to be prepared to fight against.
The first and second offense are class 1 misdemeanors so up to 12 months in jail and or a $2500 fine. Then, for the third offense there are two prior predicate offenses or convictions. The third offense is the class 6 felony. So it’s up to five years of incarceration.
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