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Prince William County Domestic Violence Penalties

There are numerous potential legal and non-legal penalties associated with a domestic violence charge. If a defendant is convicted, or simply participates in the statutory first offender program, they may lose their right to possess firearms, depending on whether their charge is a misdemeanor or felony. This consequence is particularly significant because if the defendant works at a job that requires gun possession for employment, they may lose their ability to work in that profession.

Additionally, neither a conviction nor a dismissal after a first-offender program can be expunged under state law. If convicted, aside from standard amounts of fines and jail time, an accused individual may also be at risk of being subject to various civil or criminal protective orders for years after the case closes. Violations of these orders could result in the issuance of more charges, effectively prolonging the underlying case. These orders could effectively result in the loss of someone’s residence, child custody rights, or could unfavorably affect pending divorce proceedings.

Another possible consequence of a domestic violence conviction is supervised probation, where the defendant must complete household abuse awareness or anger management programs to avoid further periods of incarceration. Finally, the social stigma resulting from a domestic violence conviction can cause drastic changes in someone’s personal and professional life. If you are facing household abuse charges, you should speak with a skilled domestic violence attorney immediately. A legal representative could work to minimize the Prince William County domestic violence penalties that you may have to endure.

Enhanced Penalties

Like other areas of the law, domestic violence offenses in Prince William County can present enhanced penalties for the accused in the form of mandatory minimum jail sentences, elevated classes of misdemeanors and felonies, and prolonged court orders prohibiting contact between the accused and the opposing party.

One of the most common aggravating factors to enhanced domestic violence penalties may include whether the accused has prior convictions for the same offense within a certain number of years from the most recent conviction. Another aggravating factor may be whether the new offense was committed while the accused was subject to a related court order forbidding harmful contact with the alleged victim.

The Differences Between Consequences for Domestic Violence and Assault

Technically, the penalties for both Prince William County domestic violence and assault charges are the same. However, courts may punish alleged domestic assault offenders more severely due to the law’s stance on the criminal gravity of harming people that are a family or household member, and the concern that future harm may come to the alleged victim if they do not impose serious punishment.

One major difference in penalties between assault against a stranger and domestic violence is if a person receives a third or subsequent household assault charge, it may automatically become a felony offense regardless of the nature of the injuries. This may not happen in assault cases where the parties are not related.

Long-Term Consequences

The long-term impact in assault claims where the defendant and the plaintiff are not related may end when the case concludes. However, domestic assault charges come with a strong social stigma and could impact a defendant’s eligibility for certain occupations, schooling opportunities, and immigration statuses.

Domestic assault cases may also involve corresponding court protective orders that prohibit contact between the two parties because there is a fear that the defendant could inflict more harm to the opposing party. These types of protective orders may last for up to two years, and if that order is violated, it can result in another offense.

Defense Strategy for Domestic Violence Charges

Unlike assault charges, domestic violence offenses have a statutory first offender program. Additionally, this penalty may not be automatically dismissed if the accused secures consent from the plaintiff asking for the court to dismiss the charges based on having received adequate legal redress. Therefore, with domestic assault charges, the defense may be more limited yet more secured in getting a first offense resolved without a conviction or later getting dismissed. One challenge that comes with this standard is that the first offender program may not allow for the defendant to expunge the charge after their case is over.

Consult with an Attorney to Discuss Domestic Violence Penalties in Prince William County

An attorney could help a defendant predict, prepare, and prevail in a case. The sooner that someone retains legal counsel, the sooner they may be able to maximize their chances for favorably dealing with a charge. Defendants may need a legal professional not only for their knowledge but also for their impartiality during an emotionally-charged domestic violence case. To learn more about Prince William County domestic violence penalties, reach out to a lawyer today.

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