Difference Between Hampton Roads Domestic Violence and Assault

Assault is putting a person under threat of harm. It does not necessarily mean actually hitting a person; it means causing someone to believe that they could be injured.

Domestic violence is when a person commits assault and battery against someone who is considered a family or household member, which is usually someone they live with or a spouse, sibling, parent or child. If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense, it is important to speak with a skilled domestic violence attorney. A qualified lawyer could answer any questions you may have about the difference between Hampton Roads domestic violence and assault and build a solid defense for you.

Reasons that Domestic Violence and Assault Are Charged Differently

Domestic violence is a hot-button crime due to the fact that it is a crime against a household member. It is treated more seriously than a regular assault. They are similar in the sense that they are both considered misdemeanors and have the same penalty structure in terms of a maximum of 12 months in jail. However, the reality is with domestic violence cases, there comes a heightened sense of importance when they get into the justice system.

Despite the difference between Hampton Roads domestic violence and assault, there are certain instances where a person can be charged with both. Assault charges are often folded into domestic violence charges. The only reason it would be separate is if there are multiple incidents. Normally, if they charge a person with assault then they cannot charge them with battery as a separate crime.

Treatment of Assault and Domestic Violence Charges

In most jurisdictions, the prosecutors will not participate in simple assault cases. However, they do participate in domestic assault cases or domestic violence cases. Domestic violence cases are normally in the juvenile court or domestic relations court, whereas most assault cases involving adults will be in the general district court. Domestic violence cases have the possibility for a first offender program.

Defense Strategies a Hampton Roads Attorney Might Use

When a person is charged with domestic assault, that is one other thing that the Commonwealth has to prove: that there was there was the relationship between the two parties that satisfies that element of jurisdiction. Beyond that, these cases are more emotional. A lawyer will prepare for that and present the evidence in the best light for the accused to show that this is not typical behavior.

Penalties for Assault and Domestic Violence Offenses

The penalties are for the most part the same as the potential penalties. They are both considered Class One misdemeanors in Virginia, which means it carries up to 12 months in jail. There is no mandatory minimum for domestic violence jail time. Practically speaking, if a person is convicted of domestic violence, if the injuries are the same as a simple assault and battery case, there is a more likely a chance they will get jail time. There is usually a relationship between the parties and, often, these crimes are men committing assault on women.

The biggest difference between Hampton Roads domestic violence and assault consequences is that if a person is convicted of domestic violence, they lose their rights to possess a firearm both in Virginia and under federal law. And currently under federal law, it is nearly impossible to get those rights restored. That is not something that happens on a simple assault case. Also, simple assault cases do not really carry the same stigma, whereas, a domestic violence conviction could cause future employers to think twice with regard to a new hire. If an individual has been charged with domestic violence, they should consult a qualified domestic violence attorney that could attempt to mitigate the charges that they face.