Domestic Assault and Battery During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Virginia

father hugs son and daughter in doorway upon returning home

With seemingly no end in sight to the COVID-19 stay-at-home order in Virginia, domestic violence incidents are sure to be on the rise. With nowhere to go and increasing alcohol sales, many home environments are ripe for conflict. But in Virginia, a domestic incident is not something that just stays within the household. Here’s why. Virginia Code § 19.2-81.3(B) requires a law enforcement officer to make an arrest if the officer has probable cause to believe an individual has violated the domestic assault and battery statute (Virginia Code § 18.2-57.2). The officer has no discretion about whether to make an arrest in this situation – it is mandated by law. Someone will be arrested.

What Happens After a Domestic Assault and Battery Arrest?

When the person arrested is brought before the Magistrate, Virginia Code § 18.2-57.2 requires the Magistrate to issue an Emergency Protective Order (EPO). An EPO can have a variety of terms ranging from “no hostile contact” to awarding the home to one of the parties. EPOs last for 72 hours and cannot end on a weekend or holiday. The terms are up to the Magistrate and may depend on factors such as the officer’s statement, criminal history, and even the arrested person’s level of cooperation and respect with the officer and the Magistrate.

Here’s an example. A husband and wife get into an altercation after dinner on a Wednesday and there is an allegation that the wife slapped the husband. The wife will be arrested and brought before the Magistrate. Ideally, the Magistrate grants the wife a bond and allows her to go home. But if the Magistrate grants the martial home to the husband in the EPO, the wife won’t return to the home until Monday because the 72-hour EPO cannot expire on a weekend. If it’s a holiday weekend, the wife will not be permitted to return home until Tuesday. Violation of the EPO would result in additional criminal charges.

A Domestic Assault and Battery charge in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-57.2 is a Class 1 Misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 12 months in jail.  

Our Team is Ready to Fight for You. 

If you’ve been charged with domestic assault and battery or some other crime, Toscano Law Group is ready and eager to put our team to work to help you. We will walk you through the legal process and work to achieve the best possible result for you and your loved ones. Regardless of your situation, do not wait. The sooner our firm is involved, the sooner we can advocate for you. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn how we can fight for your individual case.


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