Virginia’s “Shall Arrest” statute states that when the police are called to a residence and there is probable cause that an act of domestic violence has occurred, they “shall arrest” the primary physical aggressor. Domestic violence attorney Rebecca Wade goes into more detail on Virginia’s “Shall Arrest” statute in this week’s FAQ Friday.

How do the police determine who is the primary physical aggressor?

Wade explains that based on her experience, the police often determine who the primary physical aggressor is based on physical marks, like scratches or bruises, on the alleged “victim’s” body. However, she says the “Shall Arrest” statute does not  Once the police have made an arrest, the accused goes before the magistrate, who decides whether or not to issue a bond.

“Because this situation is typically seen as a misdemeanor offense, the magistrate often issues an unsecured or low secured bond,” says Wade.

What factors do judges consider when determining a bond?

Some factors the magistrate takes into consideration when determining bond include:

  • Whether the person is under the influence of alcohol
  • Whether the person is employed
  • If the person has somewhere to go
  • How the person interacted with the police at the time of the arrest (were they confrontational, aggressive, or violent?)

Emergency protective orders

The magistrate can also issue an Emergency Protective Order (EPO), which prohibits the primary physical aggressor from committing acts of family abuse and typically from having any contact with the victim for 72 hours following the issuance. “This means they are not allowed to go to the house the victim resides in, call them, Tweet at them, Facebook message them; nor are they allowed to send a message through a third party,” Wade explains. From there, the victim has the option to extend the EPO through the court system from between 15 days to 2 years.

When to speak to an attorney

Wade represents those who have been victims of domestic abuse as well as individuals falsely accused of domestic violence. If you or your children are victims of domestic violence, Old Town Lawyers can help you obtain a protective order for your safety. Please contact us for a confidential consultation right away if you face issues of domestic violence.

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