When Is Domestic Violence a Felony Under Virginia Law?


Domestic Violence, or Assault and battery against a family or household member as it is known under Virginia law is typically a class 1 misdemeanor.  That means that it is technically punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2500.  In actuality penalties are typically much lighter than that.  First time offenders, for example are eligible for diversion which is frequently given, unless there is particularly egregious injuries or some other exaggerating factor.  However there are certain conditions where a domestic assault charge can be prosecuted as a felony.

Virginia has a sort of 3 strikes law when it comes to Domestic violence.  If a person is convicted of a third domestic violence act the third conviction is a class 6 felony.  That increases the potential jail time to 5 years.  Additionally, all the other consequences that come with being a convicted felon (criminal record, loss of right to vote or possess guns) are all involved.  The prior offenses do not have to be specifically for domestic violence.  Any priors for domestic violence count, but so do convictions for malicious or unlawful wounding, aggravated malicious wounding, strangulation.  In order to make the new charge a felony there must be a prior record of 2 of those charges committed in the last 20 years.

So the short answer is that Domestic Violence is typically a misdemeanor, unless you have previously been convicted of other violent charges twice in the last 20 years.







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