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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Possible Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges in Virginia


Domestic violence is a serious crime; one that can have lifelong consequences for all parties involved. A domestic violence charge can cause additional problems far beyond a possible felony conviction on a criminal record. There is a chance the individual could lose their job and custody of their children, especially if there is a pending divorce. Unfortunately, there are some instances where someone will allege domestic violence just to get back at their spouse or significant other during a custody battle or argument. A skilled Virginia domestic violence attorney can help challenge the evidence and provide a defense for the accused.

Definition of Domestic Violence in Virginia

In Virginia, domestic abuse is violent behavior or other prohibited act between parties who are either family or people living together. Domestic violence can encompass a variety of acts, including threats, battery, and trying to force someone not to leave.

The ability to gather evidence will vary based on the individual circumstances of the case. While third-party witnesses are ideal, sometimes that is not an option. If someone has been wrongly accused of domestic violence, there are some defenses that can be raised.

Self Defense

One of the most important defenses someone can raise in a domestic violence case is the truth of self-defense. If either the male or female in the house has become violent, their domestic relations have a right to defend themselves. Self-defense in a domestic violence setting is just like any other claim of self-defense. If someone believes they are in imminent danger and about to be harmed, or they are in the middle of being attacked or assaulted in some way, the individual has a right to use an appropriate level of force to defend themselves.

The level of force has to be proportional to the events that are taking place. If you were merely shoved once and you pulled out a gun and shot the person, a claim of self-defense would be hard to support. On the other hand, if someone is wielding a knife and trying to stab you, you may have a right to use a weapon under those circumstances.

Defense of Others

Defense of others is a defense strategy often linked with self-defense. This basically says that if a person is being attacked and lacked the privilege of defending him- or herself, a third party can “step in the shoes” of the person being attacked to defend them.

Retaining a Virginia Domestic Violence Attorney

No charge of domestic violence should be taken lightly given the potential for both short-term and long-term consequences. Immediate jail time is often inevitable, followed by a probationary period at a minimum. Depending on the circumstances, there may be alternatives to at least lessen the charges or offer alternative sentencing options. Maybe a judge will order the person to undergo anger management therapy or couples counseling.

It’s important to meet with a Virginia domestic violence attorney as soon as charges are filed in order to have time to prepare the best defense. If you or a loved one has been charged with domestic violence in Virginia, contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC online or at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.

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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!