The people you love the most are also often the people who can most easily upset you during times of emotional tension. Romantic partners, in particular, often have the uncanny ability to know exactly how to frustrate one another or get under each other’s skin. That can sometimes lead to aggressive fights and even physical altercations.

Couples experiencing a major argument could learn the hard way that Virginia takes a dim view of violence and aggression in intimate relationships. It is possible for one or even both people in a relationship to wind up charged with a criminal offense because of an altercation that took place in the privacy of their own home.

A neighbor calling the police could quickly result in the arrest of one or both people and criminal charges. If you find yourself dealing with criminal charges related to domestic assault in Virginia, you likely have concerns about the impacts charges will have on your future and options you may have for defending yourself.

Your spouse may not be able to stop the prosecution

One of the most important things you have to understand is that a criminal offense involves charges brought by the state of Virginia against the alleged perpetrator. Although some cases may hinge on the cooperation or testimony of a victim, the victim themselves likely has little authority over how the state handles the charges.

In other words, even if your spouse doesn’t want any prosecution in the case, the state of Virginia may not agree. You can’t expect your spouse or partner to just “drop the charges.”

The penalties involved will increase with the number of previous offenses

The severity of the assault or injuries, as well as previous criminal convictions, will both play roles in how Virginia charges someone involved in domestic violence and the potential consequences that the accused person faces.

First-time offenders in a situation without permanent injuries could face Class 1 misdemeanor charges that carry up to a year in jail or a fine of as much as $2,500. Those with previous convictions or with state documentation showing a history of abuse could face Class 6 felony charges even without catastrophic injuries to the victim. Those charges could mean between one and 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

It is still possible to defend against allegations of domestic assault and battery

Even if the state of Virginia has decided to pursue charges against you for an altercation with your spouse or intimate partner, that doesn’t mean you are certain to face conviction.

You may have many options for fighting the charges, depending on the circumstances of your arrest. Sitting down to talk with a Virginia defense attorney who has experience in domestic criminal defense cases can help you determine what’s best.