Virginia Domestic Violence Laws and First Offender Program
If you are charged with domestic violence you may be worried about possible penalties. The first thing you should do after you have been charged is to contact a skilled domestic violence attorney to help you defend the charges. If you are convicted, a knowledgeable attorney can also help get you the lowest penalty possible. One option for people who have not been convicted of domestic violence before is to try to get into a first offender program.
Domestic Violence Defined
What is commonly called domestic violence is referred to in Virginia as “family abuse”. Family abuse is defined by the Virginia legislature as: “any act involving violence, force, or threat including any forceful detention, which results in physical injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of serious bodily injury and which is committed by a person against such a person’s family or household member.”
Virginia law defines family or household member relatively broadly and includes spouse, ex-spouses, and people who share a child together whether they live with the person accused of family violence or not. Family or household member also includes in-laws who live in the same house, couples that live together, and couples who have lived together in the past year and their children.
Virginia is a mandatory arrest state. In a mandatory arrest state, if the police come because of a domestic violence complaint and there is evidence of violence, then the police must arrest at least one of the people involved.
First Offender Program
- 18.2-57.3 of the Virginia Penal Code gives judges the option to defer family abuse proceedings and instead of a finding of guilt, the judge can give the offender probation and send the person to a first offender program.
To be eligible for the first offender program, a person must:
- Be an adult at the time of the incident;
- Not have been convicted of family abuse or similar charges before;
- Not have had a family abuse proceeding against him or her dismissed in the past;
- Pled guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of family abuse; and
- Consent to enter the first offender program.
If the court agrees to sentence someone to a first offender program there are many requirements that must be met by the offender during the program. The court may order the person to be monitored by a local department of probation. The court can also order the offender to complete education and treatment programs and agree to be evaluated to figure out what programs would be beneficial for the person. He or she is also required to be on good behavior for the next two years and to not get in any more trouble with the law. If the person successfully completes the program then the proceedings against him or her will be dismissed. If the person violates any parts of the program then the court can adjudicate him or her as guilty and then give an appropriate sentence.
Leesburg Virginia Domestic Violence Attorneys
If you are charged with family abuse or assault and battery you need to have a skilled attorney on your side to represent you in court. The skilled Leesburg domestic violence attorneys at Simms Showers, LLP can assist you with your domestic violence charges or any other charges that you may be facing in Loudoun County, Prince William County or in Northern Virginia.