Last year, Virginia expanded the relief available to victims of domestic violence obtaining a final protective order. The typical remedies a victim of family abuse may seek in Virginia are found in Virginia Code Section 16.1-279.1, and include prohibiting acts of future family abuse, prohibiting some or all contact between the victim and the offender, and granting possession of the residence occupied by the parties to the petitioning party. The option of an abuse victim to terminate a rental agreement early, however, is not contained in this Section. It is instead located in Virginia Code Chapter 55, which deals with property and conveyances.
Virginia Code Sections 55-225.16 and 55-248.21:2 both provide that any tenant who has been a victim of (a) family abuse, (b) sexual abuse, or (c) other criminal sexual assault may terminate their rental agreement under certain circumstances. Those … Read More »
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you should be aware that the issuance of a civil protective order order can, and very well may, affect your right to purchase, possess or transport a firearm in Virginia.
Federal Law Regarding Firearms and Domestic Violence
The best known restriction is found in federal law, which prohibits you from possessing, shipping, transporting, or receiving any firearm, if four conditions are met:
a protective order has been issued against you.
the protective order pertains to your “intimate partner” or the child of such “intimate partner.” The term “intimate partner” is defined to include a spouse, former spouse, person with whom you have a child or have cohabited, but not a girlfriend or boyfriend with whom you have not cohabited.
the protective order was issued after an evidentiary hearing, and you had notice and an opportunity to … Read More »
For many people the first time they need the assistance of counsel is when there are issues in their relationship. An unfortunate consequence of relationships ending is sometimes domestic violence. In Virginia, persons who experience domestic violence or have a reasonable fear of domestic violence can seek civil protective orders and sometimes the alleged abuser can be criminally prosecuted. This overlap of civil protective orders and criminal charges has important consequences for how these cases are handled in Virginia.
There are three types of civil protective orders in Virginia: (1) emergency protective orders, (2) preliminary protective orders and (3) permanent protective orders.
An emergency protective order under Virginia Code Section 16.1-253.4 may prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim, entering the victim’s home or apartment (even if shared), or abusing the victim in the future. Typically, it is obtained through … Read More »
Emergency protective orders can be issued in Virginia 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. An emergency protective order can be issued by any circuit court, general district court, or juvenile and domestic relations district court judge, or by any magistrate. Given the urgency of many situations, a law enforcement officer may request an emergency protective order orally, in person, or by electronic means. The judge or magistrate may issue an oral emergency protective order, which must be reduced to writing by the law enforcement officer who made the request.
Because of the emergency nature of family abuse situations, an emergency protective order can be issued ex parte, with no notice to the alleged abuser (the defendant). There must be reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant has committed family abuse against a family or household member and that there … Read More »