Domestic violence is a very serious matter in Virginia, so there are hefty penalties for violating the law on assault and battery against a family or household member. Therefore, your situation could look quite bleak if the allegations are false, exaggerated, or based upon improper motives. The National Sexual Violence Research Center reports that up to 10 percent of domestic violence allegations are unfounded or unsubstantiated, which seems like an insignificant number – unless you’re the one that was falsely accused.
Though the statute is clear on the definitions of domestic violence and penalties for breaking the law, it doesn’t say much about what to do when you’re charged. Your number one priority should be retaining a knowledgeable Virginia domestic violence defense lawyer to represent you, but some other tips on dos and don’ts may help.
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DO Get Some Distance
Stay away from the person who’s accusing you of domestic violence, and refrain from any contact or communication. Consider moving out temporarily if you share a residence. A cooling off period is smart because it reduces the likelihood that something will spark anger, which could otherwise lead to additional charges against you. If the individual already has a restraining order against you, getting some distance may be required by the court anyway.
DON’T Try to Represent Yourself
If you’re called for an interview or police question you in connection with the matter, assert your right to an attorney. You have civil rights that apply at different stages, and you may not understand how to protect them if you don’t have a legal background. Even though you have the right to remain silent, officers will still try to probe you for information – and this evidence may be used against you in court.
DO Seek Appropriate Treatment
In some domestic violence cases, the charges stem from some underlying issue. If anger, overuse of alcohol, drug abuse, or related problems affect your judgment, they could provide support to your accuser’s allegations. Seek treatment right away to resolve them, to support your court case and your own well-being.
DON’T Talk to Anyone About the Incident
Avoid discussing the allegations with any person other than your attorney, especially friends or family that you have in common with the accuser. Even when they seem sympathetic or want to help, these people could become witnesses for the prosecution.
DO Retain an Experienced Virginia Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Right Away
It’s important to consult with a lawyer when faced with any domestic violence allegations, including before charges are filed, during questioning, when you’re arrested, and through the rest of the criminal process. You may have defenses, and an attorney is essential in a “he-said, she-said” situation.
If you’re facing charges of domestic violence in Virginia, please contact Del Rio Law, PLLC to discuss your situation. Our Glen Allen-based team provides legal services to clients in Henrico County, Richmond City, and throughout the surrounding region. You can reach our firm to set up a consultation by calling 804.299.8612 or visiting our website.