Courts have broad powers to try criminal cases and to issue fines or jail time as a penalty. However, when the alleged victim of an incident is a family member or close acquaintance, the prosecutor may choose to label the case as an incident of domestic violence. This decision could have an immediate impact on a person’s life that extends far beyond legal consequences.
An alleged incident of domestic violence is not a criminal charge on its own. Instead, these are a type of charge that arises depending on the identity of the alleged victim. If the supposed target is a family member, that individual or aa court can move to issue restraining orders that can remain in effect for the length of the case or become permanent upon conviction.
A New Kent domestic violence lawyer may be able to help people facing these charges. A dedicated defense attorney could defend you in court and fight back against the imposition of restrictive restraining orders.
Domestic violence is not a criminal offense present in the Commonwealth’s Criminal Code. Instead, this concept becomes relevant based on the identity of the alleged victim. As a result, the police who make the arrest and the prosecutor who files the charges must be able to point to alleged criminal conduct that would justify a case regardless of the identity of the victim.
Common examples of charges that can become domestic violence issues include:
A New Kent domestic violence attorney could help to prepare and present defenses to these criminal accusations in and out of the courtroom. However, a defendant in a domestic violence case must act quickly to protect their rights long before a case gets to trial.
If police officers or a prosecutor label a case as one involving domestic violence, the path that the case will take through the criminal courts immediately changes. To justify labeling a case as one involving domestic violence, the identity of the alleged victim must meet one of the statutory definitions. Per Virginia Code §16.1-228, a case involves domestic violence if the target of the supposed offense is a “household member.” Household members include blood relatives, dating partners, parents, children, ex-spouses, and roommates. An attorney in New Kent could argue that no violent acts were taken against the household member by the defendant.
Once a court accepts this determination, the judge may issue a temporary restraining order against the defendant at an arraignment. These orders will require the two parties to remain apart and could affect a defendant’s living situation, job, or education. These orders will remain in effect for three days. Under VA Code §16.1-253.4, the court must hold a hearing at the end of this three-day period to determine whether the order should remain in effect for the rest of the case. This is an opportunity for a defendant and a skilled attorney to argue that the case is without merit. These orders can remain in effect for the rest of the case or even become permanent upon conviction. A lawyer could help to prevent this unfortunate result.
People who are facing allegations of domestic violence need to act quickly to protect their rights and their futures. Even an allegation of these offenses can result in the creation of restraining orders that could impact your living situation, work, and personal relationships. A New Kent domestic violence lawyer could help make powerful arguments against these orders. Contact a qualified attorney today to let them begin helping you.
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