Given the numerous serious consequences that a domestic violence conviction can present for a person who has been accused, it is imperative to contact an experienced Prince William County domestic violence lawyer. If a defendant is convicted or participates in a statutory first offender program, they may lose their right to possess firearms under federal law, regardless of whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony. This penalty may be significant if the accused person is required to possess a firearm for their employment.
Additionally, neither a conviction nor a dismissal after a first offender program can be expunged under Virginia law. If convicted, aside from the standard amounts of fines and jail time, an individual may be subject to various civil or criminal protective orders for one or more years after the case. Violations of these court orders could result in further charges, effectively prolonging the underlying case. However, despite being these orders being obeyed, they might also effectively result in the loss of one’s residence, one’s child custody rights, or unfavorably affect pending divorce proceedings.
A conviction can also demand a long period of supervised probation, wherein the court requires the defendant to complete domestic abuse awareness or anger management programs to avoid further periods of incarceration. Finally, the social stigma resulting from a conviction might cause substantial inconvenience in the indefinite future. As a result, it is imperative that an individual facing these charges hire a skilled criminal defense attorney for help.
One of the first and most important steps a person can take to help their domestic violence case is to obey any applicable protective orders during the pendency of their case. This is because violating these before the case is over can only make their situation worse.
An accused individual can also help their case by lawfully preserving all the relevant evidence that they can to pass along to an attorney in the future. Often, a diligent Prince William County domestic violence attorney may recommend certain mitigation activities to do before court dates, such as enrolling in therapy or domestic violence awareness programs. These actions can substantially aid the negotiation process for a suitable plea bargain outside of court.
Some of the most important pieces of evidence involved in a domestic violence case are the defendant’s prior statements to police, as well as photographs of injuries that each of the parties sustained from an alleged altercation. If a defendant admitted to the charge when initially confronted by the police—and if the prosecution has pictures of injuries sustained by the alleged victim from that same time—then the testimony of the alleged accuser might not be needed for the prosecution to proceed with charges, despite the wishes of the alleged victim.
When the prior statements of each party are vague, the original 911 phone call recording could become a crucial piece of evidence, as well as the alleged victim’s trial testimony.
One of the most common defenses in domestic violence cases is self-defense. State law allows a person who honestly and reasonably perceives bodily harm by another due to the apprehension of improper physical contact to exercise reasonable force to repel that harm. However, the person at fault for generating the confrontation cannot claim self-defense, unless they have already attempted to retreat or deescalate the confrontation before resorting to a use of force. The force that one uses during self-defense must also be reasonably proportionate to the threatened harmful contact.
Another defense frequently used by domestic violence attorneys in Prince William County is the defense of others. This strategy posits that a person is allowed to defend another, only insofar as that other person is allowed to defend themselves under the normal standard of legal self-defense. Attorneys may also dispute the domestic status of the alleged victim to the defendant in domestic violence charges.
If you are facing allegations of household abuse, it could be vital to contact a well-practiced legal professional for help. A local defense attorney knows what particular course judges and prosecutors take on certain issues, which could be invaluable—whether the case goes to trial or not.
A local lawyer may also recognize the most efficient ways to get important evidence from the police and the prosecution, and could also be more familiar with local resources to build mitigation strategies, either before or after the finding of guilt. To learn more about these charges, reach out to a Prince William County domestic violence lawyer today.
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