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What are the consequences of a domestic violence conviction?

Earlier this year, NFL star Ray Rice made news media headlines when he was charged with assault for an altercation with his wife Janay. Ever since, domestic violence has become a hot topic of discussion all across the nation. For those Virginia residents that have been arrested and charged with domestic violence, they don't necessarily know what lies ahead. Learning about domestic violence laws in Virginia could help protect their rights and establish a defense strategy.

Physical violence, sexual assault, emotional abuse, neglect and economic control are all considered to be forms of domestic violence in Virginia. Domestic violence typically involves those in a romantic relationship or family members in the same household. This can include spouses and ex-spouses, regardless of residence, in-laws in the same house, persons with a child in common, co-habitants, and those who have co-habited in the past year and their children.

A person found guilty of domestic assault and battery or family abuse in Virginia will be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and face up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Those with multiple convictions will face even harsher penalties. The crime can be elevated to a Class 6 felony with up to five years in prison if the person has three or more convictions on different dates within a 10-year time frame.

Specific crimes charged will vary depending on the severity of the victim's injuries, whether a child under 18 was a present and if a protective or restraining order was violated.

With so much at stake, it is important for those facing domestic violence charges to have a solid defense strategy in place. With the right defense, those accused may be able to avoid unjust penalties. In addition, it could help reduce or dismiss the charges against the accused, helping to limit the impact the allegatios will have on their personal and professional life.

Source: FindLaw, "Virginia Domestic Violence Laws," accessed on Dec. 22, 2014

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