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Legal-Guru
Legal-Guru, Criminal Justice Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Experienced Criminal Trial Attorney since 1998.
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Virginia assault/general battery warrant

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My husband and I went to Virginia to retrieve his dog from his ex-girlfriend's parents about a year ago. My husband approached the house while his ex-girlfriend's mother was outside with the dog, un-hooked the leash from the collar, put our leash around her neck and put her in the car. The ex-girlfriend's mother was quite upset about the whole ordeal and swung the empty leash (metal clip side out) at my husband and our rental car. We felt no need to further aggravate things and just left. We found out after we arrived back home in Las Vegas that the police had been called and a warrant issued for assault/general battery. 

I called the police station and spoke to a very nice officer that informed me that a complaint had been filed at the magistrate's office and a warrant issued. He informed me that they wouldn't extradite on this charge so as long as my husband wasn't in Virginia or surrounding states he wouldn't be arrested on this charge. I requested a copy of the complaint through FOIA and was surprised when the complaint arrived in the mail.


It states the crime as being "simple assault," weapon/tools as "personal weapons (hands, etc.)" and it states the case status as being inactive as of 21 days after the date of incident. The most surprising part about this complaint is the narrative, "on 5/10/10 at approximately 0900 the suspect came to the victim's residence and forcefully pulled the leash of a dog out of the victim's hand causing an abrasion to victim's finger. The dog belongs to suspect's ex-girlfriend, who is victim's daughter. They jointly bought dog together 7 years ago." The leash was not pulled out of her hand and therefore if there is an abrasion that could not have been the cause. 


I had been previously informed by a lawyer in Virginia that my husband would need to turn himself in in Virginia, be processed, fingerprinted etc., put up bail and then get a date to go before a judge regarding the matter. Considering that the complaint is of an abrasion on a finger, and therefore not a serious injury at all, what would the procedure be if my husband were to turn himself in on this matter? Would he even need bail or would he possibly be released on OR? What could the possible repercussions of this charge be? Would it matter that he hasn't turned himself in and it's been over a year? I know this is something that needs to be dealt with but since we live in Las Vegas it's not an easy task. Also, it is a warrant for assault/battery, which is serious, but since the actual complaint is of an abrasion on a finger is there really a possibility of serious repercussions? Also, would it be possible to file a motion to quash and just have it dismissed entirely?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Legal-Guru replied 3 years ago.
Before flying to Virginia retain a lawyer in Virginia so that he/she can arrange for your husband to turn himself in. Otherwise, he may be arrested and have to spend time in jail waiting to bond out.

Regarding bond: There should be a bond amount on the warrant. The attorney can find out what that is. Your husband can either use a bondsman (if so line one up in advance -- the VA attorney should be able to help you with that too), or you can post a cash bond for the amount. The advantage of the cash bond is that you save the bondsman's fee (usually 10-15% of the bond amount). The downside is you tie up that money until the case is disposed of.

A motion to quash would not be successful at this point since there has been no evidence presented. If it goes to trial, it will simply be a factual issue for the finder for fact (either a jury or judge) to decide who is telling the truth and who is not.

It's possible that once you hire an attorney in VA, he/she may be able to talk to the prosecutor before you even fly out there and give you a better assessment of the situation, what the police reports say, and what the photograph of her finger looks like.

My guess is that they will offer him some form of probation (most likely something that can later be expunged from his record), fines, and cost. Whether your husband wants to take that or not since he did not do what they allege will be up to him.

It is possible, although probably not likely, that your attorney could convince the prosecutor to dismiss the charge. No way to know until he/she talks to them.

Best of luck to you and your husband.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
So it is unlikely that he will be released on OR for this and bail will be required? Is that because it is assualt/battery or just because that is normal protocol?

Would there be any way for me to procure any photos or further evidence or would that only be released to a lawyer? Also would there be a way for me to find out what the bond amount is?

I'm sure that courts in Virginia, as well as everywhere else, are swamped with cases. With that in mind would the prosecutor really want to spend the time on a case like this? I know it's usually on a case to case basis but since this would be considered a civil matter in most states it does seem sort of trivial considering the supposed injury. Even if the injury was caused exactly the way it was stated in the complaint it still seems a bit trivial. Is it likely that a prosecutor would really want to spend any amount of time on something like this? Is it possible that it could just be thrown out or is that just wishful thinking?

The process you described is just what I was afraid of. Arrest, bond, waiting to go in front of a judge and the possibility of having to fly to Virginia twice, once to turn himself in and once to go before a judge since it may take some time to get a court date. If this turns out to be the case and we spend an ungodly amount of money going back and forth can we sue the "victim" for expenses incurred if the case is thrown out or found in our favor?
Expert:  Legal-Guru replied 3 years ago.
Just saw your response. Have to go into the office now, but will be back to answer your follow-up questions within two hours. I apologize for the delay.
Expert:  Legal-Guru replied 3 years ago.

It is possible (although not likely) that he could be released on an O.R. bond, but that would only happen one of two ways: (1) you hire a lawyer before you go out there and he negotiates an O.R. bond upon your husbands surrender, or (2) your husband turns himself in and sits in jail from several hours to several days to appear before a magistrate and convinces the magistrate himself to grant him an O.R. bond. Not only does the first option avoid him sitting in jail, it is much more likely to be successful. Judges typically assume that people who have taken the time and incurred the expense of hiring an attorney are more likely to appear for future court dates. Your husband will have the fact that he voluntarily traveled across the country to turn himself in as a huge plus when it comes to bond, but the fact that he lives so far away will be a negative.

Bond is something that varies greatly not only from state to state, but also county to county and even judge to judge within the same courthouse. I cannot tell you what a typical bond is for a minor A&B before that judge in that county in Virginia because I have never practiced there. Likewise, I do not know how liberally they grant O.R. bonds. Some places almost never grant them and others do all the time. That's one of the reasons you need to contact a local attorney there.

You will not be able to obtain the discovery (photos, etc) from the prosecutor's office. Only your husband's attorney will be able to do that.

The court clerks office might tell you what the bond amount on the warrant is or they may have a website that list it. Some places divulge that information, but others do not on an active warrant. Some places will not even tell you if there is an active warrant. A local attorney there should be able to find out pretty easily though.

You are correct that this is not a high profile or major case, but it is wishful thinking to think that this will lead to it being thrown out. In most DA's offices the newer lawyers handle these kind of cases (misdemeanors). This is what they do. They don't dismiss them because they have too many. If it gets dismissed, it will be because your husband's lawyer either convinced the prosecutor that it did not happen or that they cannot prove it happened.

It is possible that your husband's attorney will be able to arrange for the case to be taken care of during one visit given that you are coming from out of state. That's much less likely if he shows up without an attorney.

You cannot sue the victim for your costs related to a criminal prosecution unless you can prove that she lied and maliciously prosecuted your husband. Even dismissal of the criminal case does not get you there. Short of a confession by her that she lied or a video showing that she lied you probably would not have a civil case worth pursuing.

Hope this answered all your questions. I cannot urge your husband enough to retain a lawyer before he returns to VA, and not a day or two before. Long enough that he has time to try to make some arrangements and negotiations with the prosecutor. I would suggest retaining an attorney about a month before he plans on going back.

 

Legal-Guru, Criminal Justice Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience: Experienced Criminal Trial Attorney since 1998.
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