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Who can be the victim of domestic violence in Virginia?

It is not unusual for those who live together to get into arguments sometimes. Most of the time these arguments involve nothing but words and are ultimately resolved with no issue. Other times, however, these arguments can escalate into a physical altercation that leads to charges of domestic violence.

Under the Code of Virginia, domestic violence occurs when a person commits a violent or forceful act or threat, including forceful detention, against a family or household member that either places that person in reasonable apprehension that they will be seriously harmed or that results in serious injuries. This is referred to as assault and battery against a family or household member. Depending on the circumstances, this crime could be penalized as a Class 1 misdemeanor all the way to a Class 6 felony.

Domestic violence, for legal purposes, is not limited to violence between spouses who live together. Under Virginia law, family and household members against whom domestic violence can occur include: spouses who do not reside together; ex-spouses; parents, stepparents children, stepchildren, siblings, half-siblings, grandparents and grandchildren even if they do not live with the accused; in-laws who reside with the purported perpetrator of the violence; those who have a child together whether or not they live together; those who cohabitate with one-another; and those who had cohabitated with one another in the past 12 months along with any children they may have.

As this shows, domestic violence can occur in a wide variety of situations and between a wide variety of people. Unfortunately, it is a crime with an extremely negative stigma, so even mere accusations of domestic violence can affect the accused’s personal and professional life. Moreover, the alleged victim of domestic violence could also seek a protective order from the court, which could limit the alleged perpetrator’s ability to contact the alleged victim or even reside in the same home as the alleged victim. To avoid these negative consequences, those charged with domestic violence may want to take the steps necessary to develop a solid criminal defense strategy.

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