Differences Between Assault and Domestic Violence in Richmond

Although they sound similar, assault and domestic violence are not the same thing when it comes to the legal fallout. It is crucial that you know the differences between assault and domestic violence in Richmond, since the domestic aspect can have far more serious consequences. It is in your best interest to retain the services of a trustworthy domestic violence attorney in these situations.

How Are Assault and Domestic Violence Different?

An assault occurs whenever a person touches another with the intent to do some form of harm, including attempted battery, or the rude or unwanted touching of another without consent, with the intent to do harm. To place it in the realm of domestic assault, the alleged victim of the assaultive behavior has to fall into the class of individual that is considered a family or household member. Most of the time, a family or household member is going to be a spouse, child, or parent, but that list is not exclusive.

The Virginia Code states that a spouse is considered a household member even if they do not live in the same home. The same applies to a former spouse, parents, stepparents, children, stepchildren, siblings, half-siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren, regardless of whether they reside in the same home. In-laws can be considered family only if they live in the same home. Other individuals are considered family or household members if they have a child in common with the defendant, whether or not they resided together at any time. Any individual who cohabits, or has cohabitated within the previous 12 months, with the person is considered a household member, as well as any children that reside in the same home with that person.

Can Someone be Charged with Both Assault and Domestic Violence?

A defendant could be charged with both assault and domestic violence in Richmond if they assaulted multiple people. If someone has a fight at a family gathering or event, and they attack both their spouse and their in-laws who do not live with them, they would be charged with domestic assault for attacking the spouse, and assault for attacking the in-laws. They would appear in different courts – juvenile and domestic relations court in one, and the general district or circuit court for the other.

How Domestic Violence is Treated Differently

In most standard assault cases, a summons is taken out and an individual is not going to be arrested for it. Although there may be a no contact order, there is no need for a protective order prior to the trial.

Due to the complicated relationships involved, an arrest warrant will likely be issued in a domestic assault case, and protective orders issued automatically. A defendant might be barred from entering their home because it is given to the alleged victim. The initial ramifications of being charged with domestic assault carry a lot more weight than an assault that is not domestic in nature.

Changing Defense Strategies

The biggest change in defense strategies when defending against domestic assault compared to a regular assault is that in a non-domestic assault situation the alleged victim is an unknown party. The defense counsel and the accused presumably do not have any emotional ties to the alleged victim, so it is not complicated to question their version of events or call them a liar. There would be no long-lasting harm to a relationship, so the defense can utilize all tactics and try to win.

When dealing with domestic assault, on the other hand, they are normally dealing with a loved one or a cherished relationship, which means that they will not want to take a scorched-earth approach. The defendant may not want to put their spouse on the stand and have a lawyer drag them through the dirt and make them look bad, because that relationship might continue.

Lawyers have to use a lot more tact and be more diplomatic when approaching their defense to a domestic assault.

Differing Penalties

There are two big differences in the penalties for domestic assault and standard assault in Richmond. Domestic assault could be a compound felony, which means the more charges that someone has, the higher chance there is that they will be convicted of a felony for the same act. If they get three domestic assaults, then on the third one they could charge them with a Class 6 felony as opposed to a misdemeanor. Basic assault is not compounded.

When dealing with a domestic assault, there is a first offender program designed to help assaulters and assaultees rebuild their relationship and prevent future incidents. If they are willing to go through certain programs, the case could be dismissed via the Virginia statutes.

Speak to a Richmond Attorney About the Differences Between Assault and Domestic Violence

If you were accused of harming someone within your household, the stakes are higher than if that person is unrelated to you. Learn the differences between assault and domestic violence in Richmond and how they impact your case. Call a lawyer as soon as possible to begin building your defense.