One of the most common cases I see in my office is domestic assault & battery. A husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend get in an argument, and one of them ends up pushing or slapping the other one. Alcohol is usually involved. And then one of them calls the police.
By the time folks come to see me, they’ve calmed down and tell me they just want to drop the charges. But it’s not that simple: once an arrest has been made by the police, the case must proceed to court. Under Virginia law § 18.2-57.2, assault and battery against a family or household member is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500.00 fine. A third or subsequent offense is a class 6 felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a $2,500.00 fine. And if you’re not a U.S. citizen, a conviction for domestic assault and battery can get you deported from the United States.
There are a number of feasible defenses for an assault & battery charge.
Self Defense – If you acted out of fear that you would be unlawfully harmed by the accuser and there was so way to escape the situation, this may the best defense for you.
Defense of Others – If you acted out of fear that one or more individuals would be unlawfully harmed by the accuser and there was so way to escape the situation, this may the best defense for you.
Defense of Property – If you acted in attempts to protect your home or property from an illegal invasion, this may be the best defense for you.
Consent – If both the accused and the accuser voluntarily consented to a particular act, this may be the best defense for you.
If you do get arrested for domestic assault and battery, pay close attention: an emergency protective order is always issued along with the arrest warrant, usually for 3 days. That means for the first 3 days after you get arrested, you cannot have any contact with the alleged victim. Violation of the protective order is a separate criminal charge, and another ground for deportation from the United States if you’re not a U.S. citizen.