DOMESTIC & FAMILY
Domestic Assault & Battery cases typically involve a misdemeanor Domestic Assault charge under Virginia Code 18.2-57.2, or a felony Strangulation charge under Section 18.2-51.6, or both. If a warrant has been issued against you for a Domestic Assault and Battery, then the magistrate likely issued a 72-hour Emergency Protective Order as well. The Protective Order may prohibit you from going to your residence, from cancelling certain utility services, and from contacting the alleged victim. You also may have temporarily lost possession of your dog or cat.
A Domestic Assault and Battery is differentiated from a simple Assault and Battery by the requirement that it be alleged against a “Family or Household Member” (Defined here) A Family or Household Member includes some of the following people:
A former spouse
Children, stepchildren, brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters
Grandparents and grandchildren
Mother-in-law, father-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law who reside in the same home with the person
Any individual who has a child in common with the person
Any individual who cohabits or who, within the previous 12 months, cohabited with the person
The prosecution must prove that there was a non-consensual touching with offensive or harmful intent. The standard is the same as an Assault & Battery charge. However, they must also show it involved a “Family or Household Member.”
Potential Loss of Firearms Rights
Outside the detrimental impact that these charges and convictions can have on your life, a conviction of a domestic Assault and Battery will strip you of your right to possess and carry a firearm under the Federal 1968 Gun Control Act. Virginia itself does not have a firearm ban after a domestic assault and battery conviction. The Gun Control Act specifically bans anyone convicted of a domestic violence charge from transporting, shipping, owning, possessing, or using a gun or ammunition.
Even if an Assault and Battery charge did not allege in the warrant or indictment that the victim was a “Family or Household Member,” if the Federal Government determines that it was in fact against someone meeting that definition, then it will be treated as a Domestic Assault and Battery conviction. So, a “simple” Assault and Battery conviction against a spouse that was mistakenly heard in the General District Court may still revoke your firearm rights under Federal Law.
Domestic Assault & Battery cases have the potential to ride a serious roller coaster during the course of the proceedings due to the close family relationships involved. It is important to have a competent criminal defense attorney on your side that is familiar with the local jurisdiction, its policies and procedures, and the court system itself.