Domestic violence (also referred to as family abuse) cases are urgent issues that require the advice of an experienced attorney. If domestic violence cases are not addressed quickly or properly, they may result in significant permanent damage, especially if children are involved.

Domestic violence is a category of abusive behaviors used by one individual to exert power or control over other individuals in a family or relationship. It can include: one member of a household causing physical harm to another member, one member of the household forcing sexual activity on another, or when one member of a household simply threatens to harm another. Domestic violence laws in Virginia cover a range of offenses including: stalking, rape, assault and battery, family abuse, and child abuse.

Assault is defined as the threat of violence and battery is physical violence. Stalking is a series of behaviors that result in another person or family member having reasonable fear of death, injury, or rape. The Virginia State Attorney General defines rape as occurring in the following scenarios: when someone has sexual intercourse with a person under threat or forcible conditions, when someone forces someone else to have sexual intercourse with that person under threat or forcible conditions, or a situation where someone takes advantage of a minor, a physically helpless person, or mentally incapacitated person in order to have sexual intercourse.

According to Section 16.1-228 of the Code of Virginia, family abuse is “any act involving violence, force, or threat including, but not limited to, any forceful detention, which results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of bodily injury and which is committed by a person against such person’s family or household member.”

According to Section 16.1-228  of the Code of Virginia, the definition of a family or household member includes the following: “the person’s spouse, whether or not he or she resides in the same home with the person,  the person’s former spouse, whether or not he or she resides in the same home with the person, the person’s parents, stepparents, children, stepchildren, brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters, grandparents and grandchildren, regardless of whether such persons reside in the same home with the person, the person’s mother-in-law, father-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law who reside in the same home with the person, any individual who has a child in common with the person, whether or not the person and that individual have been married or have resided together at any time, or any individual who cohabits or who, within the previous 12 months, cohabited with the person, and any children of either of them then residing in the same home with the person.”

If you’re being threatened, or sexually abused, or physically hurt by a family member or member of household you have several ways to receive legal relief from a Virginia court. Traditional criminal laws can be applied to domestic violence cases. There are also civil remedies as well. The most common solutions include: filing criminal charges, in cases of spousal abuse filing a civil lawsuit and receiving a protective order form the court, or filing both a family abuse civil case in court and an assault case (criminal case) through a magistrate.

You may request a protective order if you have reasonable fear of physical harm or have been assaulted by a family member or household member. A protective order involves civil law and will not cause the abuser to go to jail unless he or she violates the protective order. There are three types of protective orders: an emergency protective order (under Virginia Code 16.1-253.4) which usually lasts until three days and may prohibit the abuser from contacting you, entering your house, or abusing you, a preliminary protective order (under Virginia Code 16.1-253.1) which lasts until 15 days, and a permanent protective order (under Virginia Code 16.1-279.1) which lasts up to two years but may be extended if necessary.

If you or your children have been victims of a domestic violence issues, Raheen Law Group can help you weigh all your legal options and assist you in moving forward. Raheen Law Group also has the experience to assist you if you believe that you have been wrongfully accused of a domestic violence issue. If you wish to speak with us about your specific situation, please contact us for a consultation.

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