Martinsburg Domestic Violence Attorneys
Serving Clients Throughout West Virginia, Berkeley County & Beyond
Domestic violence, also known as family violence or household abuse, is a serious legal issue in West Virginia. Acts of violence against family members or intimate partners are subject to separate laws apart from violent crimes directed at others in society. Some of these domestic offenses carry greater penalties than standard cases of assault or battery.
Furthermore, convictions in domestic violence cases can result in additional court-ordered actions, including protective orders, called Family Protection Act Orders (FPOs), or restraining orders that can profoundly affect the life of the accused. They can affect child custody matters and can remove you as the alleged abuser from your home, prohibit you from contacting the protected person, and prevent you from legally possessing a gun for the rest of your life.
At The Criminal Law Center, our team is well-versed in the West Virginia laws regarding domestic violence, is highly experienced in defending clients in the local courts and is prepared to represent you in any other related matters, such as protective order hearings. We understand the stress and gravity of such charges and will work diligently to help you secure an optimum case result.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence in West Virginia?
Domestic violence consists of assault or battery as described in the following types of actions:
- Trying to inflict or deliberately, consciously, or carelessly cause physical injury to another person, with or without the use of dangerous or lethal weapons;
- Making another person reasonably fearful of potential physical harm;
- Instigating fear of physical harm through harassment, stalking, psychological abuse, or threats;
- Engaging in actions that qualify as sexual assault or sexual abuse; and
- Keeping, restraining, holding, or kidnapping another individual against their will.
The individuals who can be victims of these types of actions can include current or former spouses, persons who live together or who have lived together in the past, persons who are dating or have dated, persons who have a child in common, and those related by blood or marriage.
The charges involved in domestic violence cases vary based on the severity of the offense. They can range from misdemeanors to felonies, with penalties including fines, imprisonment, or both. Each subsequent conviction in domestic violence is punished more severely, and third offenses are charged as felonies. Earlier convictions can include the crime of misdemeanor unlawful restraint that is based on restraining the alleged victim through actual force or by threats of violence.
Penalties for Domestic Violence
In a first conviction for domestic assault, you will face up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $100. A second conviction will result in a minimum of 30 days in jail or up to six months with an increased fine of up to $500. Third-offense felony convictions are punishable by one to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500. You may also be required to pay restitution to the victim for any financial losses incurred, such as for medical treatment, counseling, or property repairs.
Protective Orders in West Virginia
A protective order, often called a restraining order, is a legal document issued by the court to protect victims of domestic violence. It can prohibit the abuser from contacting, approaching, or harming the victim. These can be issued by the courts on a temporary as well as a more permanent basis, for up to a year.
The terms of a protective order can vary but may include:
- Prohibition from entering the home, school, business, or workplace of the victim
- Requirement to stay a certain distance away from the victim
- Temporary custody of children given to the victim
- Order the abuser to make no contact with the victim, whether by phone, text, or any other manner.
- Order the abuser to take part in a batterer’s treatment program
Violations of protective orders can lead to further criminal charges.
Domestic violence charges can significantly affect child custody agreements. In determining custody in these cases, courts consider the best interests of the child, and a history of domestic violence is a crucial factor. A parent with a record of this type of violence can lose custody rights or be limited to supervised visitation only.
Work with Our Skilled Trial Lawyers in West Virginia
Every case involving domestic violence is unique, with its own set of facts and circumstances. At The Criminal Law Center, we provide you with a team approach combined with trusted outside investigators and other experts, to give you high-quality representation.
Our team can advise and guide you throughout your case about your rights, obligations, and options. Because we are trial attorneys, we always prepare your case for court; doing so puts you in the strongest position for an optimum result.
Let us fight for you. Call (304) 244-0633.