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Assault On A Family Member


Disagreements at home can cause tension among family members. When strong words give way to physical contact, however, what begins as a simple argument could result in a police visit and time in a holding cell. If this happens, it’s important to know the definition and consequences of the charge filed, and how to plan a defense.

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, Assault and Battery on a family or household member is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. In order to convict, the state will work to prove the defendant committed the assault in the locality where the charges were filed. In addition, the state has to prove two other factors beyond a reasonable doubt:

Unlawful touching – This is the act of willfully touching another person without consent. It is not necessarily limited to a violent act (i.e. punching or kicking) that results in injury. Unlawful touching may include physically restraining another person or shoving or grabbing a person in a threatening or angry way.

Relationship to the victim – The victim must be confirmed as a family or household member. This may include a spouse, live-in domestic partner, or a relative of the defendant or of the domestic partner who also lives full-time in the home.

If convicted, the defendant may receive the following penalties:

  • Jail time of up to one year
  • A fine of up to $2,500
  • Is prohibited from buying and owning a firearm

The convicted person may qualify for the Virginia First Offender Program if this is their first domestic assault offense or if they have successfully completed the program in the past. This program permits dismissal of the misdemeanor charge if two conditions are satisfied:

  • The convicted must exhibit good behavior for a minimum of two years.
  • The convicted must agree to an assessment for anger management or battery intervention courses, and/or undergo substance abuse counseling.

A domestic argument that leads to a physical altercation disrupts the home. Charges of assault and battery on a spouse or another person in the household can deepen this divide to the point where income is lost and relationships cannot be mended. If you or a loved one is involved in a case of assault and battery on a family or household member in Suffolk or Virginia Beach, contact the law offices of Bush and Taylor, PC. Our attorneys specialize in defense of domestic assault and battery cases and can help strategize a strong defense.