Domestic violence is, unfortunately, an all-too common occurrence. In fact, a recent study by the National Violent Death Reporting System revealing that Virginian women are particularly at risk of intimate partner violence, with 68% of women killed between the years 2003 and 2014 being victims of domestic violence. This is higher than the national average of 55%.
Though women are at a higher risk, domestic violence can affect anyone—men, women, and children. By law, domestic violence (also known as partner or family violence) is defined as a pattern of behavior in which one individual establishes control over another person or multiple people.
At DiPietro Law Group, PLLC, we understand the long-lasting and far-reaching impacts of domestic violence, both on victims and the wrongfully accused. Our Fairfax domestic violence attorneys work swiftly to help our clients take reasonable safety protections, as well as protect their rights to security and fairness.
If you are a victim of domestic violence or have been accused of violence, contact our firm online or by phone to find out how we can help. We offer confidential consultations.
What Is Considered Domestic Violence?
As previously mentioned, domestic violence is any type of action or set of actions that seeks to assert control over another person or people. While many people think of domestic violence as purely physical in nature, this is not always the case.
Domestic violence can include any instance of:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Mental abuse
- Financial control
- Sexual abuse
While domestic violence can include assault and battery or spousal rape, it can also include a pattern of humiliation or restriction of financial freedom as a means to control another person. In order to classify as domestic violence, the abuse must be committed by a family or household member. This can include a spouse, ex-spouse, the other parent of your child, an in-law who lives in your home, or a co-habitant (including a roommate).
Effects of Domestic Violence
For victims, the impact of domestic violence is often life-altering. Not only is their personal safety at risk, the security of their children may also be in jeopardy. Those accused of domestic violence also face certain penalties. Even if the accusations are false, a conviction can result in up to one year in jail and fines reaching $2,500. A parent who is convicted of domestic violence may not be able to secure custody or visitation rights, meaning they will be unable to see their children. Additionally, even an accusation alone can have negative social impacts.
Domestic Violence FAQs
Does VA recognize emotional abuse?
In most cases, emotional abuse is looked at in the context of the elements of other crimes such as stalking or threatening. Instances involving emotional abuse often provide evidence of domestic violence crimes. Emotional abuse could be used to demonstrate a pattern of conduct justifying a protective order. In situations where a vulnerable individual such as a child or elderly person is emotionally abused by a caregiver, those actions could be charged as criminal abuse or neglect.
What are the 3 phases in domestic violence?
The first phase in the cycle of domestic violence is the tension-building period. During this phase, the abusive person often displays fits of anger, may act arrogant and possessive, and is often demanding and demeaning. The victims feel they must “walk on eggshells” to avoid an explosion of anger. This phase may last months or progress to the next phase in a matter of hours.
The second phase is a violent episode. The abuser may throw objects, hit, kick, or choke one or more victims. Often weapons are threatened or used. Victims are usually powerless to resist and there are no witnesses.
Phase three allows the cycle to repeat in a heart-breaking pattern. During phase three, the abuser expresses remorse. They may find a source of blame for the problem, but they promise to change. A honeymoon period may follow where everyone feels hopeful that the cycle is over.
Unless something changes, however, the cycle merely repeats again.
What are the legal penalties for domestic violence in VA?
UnderVa. Code §18.2-57.2, someone convicted of assault and battery against a family or household member is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 for a first offense. If the convicted abuser has two prior convictions for domestic abuse during the previous 20 years, then the offense is treated as a Class 6 felony punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500.
If the abuser is convicted of a more serious criminal offense such as strangulation or aggravated malicious wounding, the penalties are much more serious. Strangulation, for instance, is a Class 6 felony for the first offense, and aggravated malicious wounding is a Class 2 felony with penalties that include imprisonment for 20 years to life.
What is a no contact order in VA?
Officially, courts in Virginia issue three types of protective orders—Emergency Protective Orders, Preliminary Protective Orders, and longer-term Protective Orders. The primary differences are the timing of the request for the order, the duration, and the procedures involved.
Protective orders may have provisions that cover a variety of issues and behaviors. Any type of protective order could have a provision that prohibits all contact between the abuser and one or more family or household members. This can include indirect contact, such as asking someone to pass along a message. Violating a protective order—including a “no-contact” order—is a separate criminal offense.
How Our Firm Can Help
If you are the victim of domestic violence, our Fairfax domestic violence lawyers can help you take immediate action to protect your safety and the safety of your children. We assist domestic violence victims with obtaining protective orders, including emergency protective orders, preliminary protective orders, and final protective orders.
We also assist those wrongfully accused of domestic violence to help ensure that their rights are protected. We understand the time-sensitive and delicate nature of these matters and are prepared to help you navigate the process from start to finish.
Call our Fairfax office or fill out an online contact form to schedule a consultation with DiPietro Law Group, PLLC today.