Our state takes domestic violence very seriously, and anyone accused of assaulting or terrorizing a family member must be very careful not to end up in prison. Domestic violence cases differ from other run-of-the-mill violence cases because the alleged victim probably got a protective order. These orders restrict the accused’s ability to contact the alleged victim.
If you’re facing domestic violence allegations, please contact Del Rio Law, PLLC. Our violent crime defense attorney in Virginia will help you bring a vigorous defense and keep you from violating the terms of the protective order.
Domestic Violence Protective Orders
Virginia makes it very easy for alleged victims to get protective orders, even without any hearing being necessary. These orders are fully effective when signed by a judge, and you could easily end up in the back of a police cruiser if you violate any term or condition.
To simplify, Virginia lets victims get an emergency protective order on an ex parte basis, meaning no hearing is required. Though these are only temporary orders that last 72 hours at the most, they nevertheless are valid. A judge will not enter a permanent order until you have been afforded a hearing.
Whether temporary or permanent, a protective order will list things you cannot do:
- Prohibit contact with the alleged victim, either electronically or in person
- Prohibit contact with any of the victim’s family members
- Prohibit visiting the victim at home or work
Furthermore, Va. Code section 18.2-308.1:4 prohibits anyone subject to a protective order from purchasing, transporting, and even possessing a firearm. Instead, you will need to surrender your firearm to law enforcement within 24 hours.
If you violate a court order, an officer can pick you up and you’ll be dragged in front of a judge, who can punish you with fines or possibly even time in jail. For this reason, you must follow the order and should contact an attorney for assistance understanding your rights.
Difficulty Collecting Evidence
To defend against domestic violence accusations, you need evidence. Unfortunately, some evidence might be in your home—which the protective order is now preventing you from going near. You might also need witness testimony from family members, who you are also prohibited from contacting.
This is where an attorney is very helpful. Your lawyer can collect any evidence you need to fight these charges and can reach out to witnesses to get their side of the story. Don’t let a protective order keep you from mounting a strong defense.
The evidence you use will depend on the circumstances of the case. In many domestic violence disputes, the “victim” actually instigated the fight. Often, a man will shove a woman to simply create some distance between the two of them, but she might fall and break an arm or hit her head.
We see another common situation in domestic violence disputes: the victim exaggerated what happened when she called the police and now feels so badly that she doesn’t want to testify.
Technically, the state can still bring charges even if the victim doesn’t testify. They could use other witnesses to the incident, or even a 9-1-1 call as evidence. As a practical matter, however, a victim who refuses to cooperate often ends the case.
There is still a problem for our clients, however: even if your partner/spouse wants to reconcile, you cannot meet so long as the protective order is in place. Instead, reach out quickly to a domestic violence lawyer to get the order dissolved.
Call Us for a Free Consultation
Our Virginia criminal defense attorney can represent you in a protective order hearing or against substantive criminal charges like assault or battery. Contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation.