Domestic Violence in the Age of Coronavirus

Vermont, like much of the rest of the United States, has spent the last several months on “stay at home” order lockdowns. As time has dragged on, it has become apparent that ostensible protective measures against the COVID-19 virus are not without unintended consequences. The NY Times recently covered a global surge in domestic violence while CNN delved into the impact on victims’ escape plans.

Vermonters have spent months isolated in sometimes small spaces, unable to go to work, or to school, and, even with recent relaxations in lockdowns, the fundamental change of whole families living together 24/7 without traditional outlets of work, school, sports, community, worship, etc., it is likely Vermont’s domestic violence cases will rise. That being said, it is important to understand what acts are prohibited under Vermont and federal law, and what procedures the State of Vermont and the federal government utilize in enforcing the law, and their potential short-term and long-term consequences.

If you’re in need of a domestic violence attorney in Vermont call Jason Sawyer today at 802-658-6669 or contact us online for a free consultation and to have your case evaluated and get the advice you need. In these trying times it’s as important as ever that you exercise your constitutional right to defense.

Domestic Violence Law in VT

Vermont law prohibits the following acts of abuse from occurring between family or household members: 

  • Attempting to cause or causing physical harm; 
  • Placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm; 
  • Abuse to children (Click here for Vermont statutory definitions related to abuse of children and the reporting of the same)

Vermont Domestic Violence Charges & Penalties

Relief from Abuse (RFA) in Vermont

The order itself can impose several immediate restraints on the defendant which include: refraining the defendant from abusing the plaintiff and their children, which include limiting the defendant’s ability to contact the plaintiff or plaintiff’s children, the defendant immediately vacate the household, special circumstances for parent-child contact between the defendant and children, and financial support for the plaintiff for a limited period of the time to paid by the defendant among other case specific circumstances. A defendant who has an RFA imposed against them cannot possess, or purchase firearms. An RFA typically lasts a year, unless an extension is filed. A violation of an RFA may be prosecuted as a criminal contempt under Rule 42 of Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure. The prosecution for criminal contempt may be initiated by the State’s Attorney in District or Superior Court in the unit or county in which the violation occurred. The maximum penalty that may be imposed under this subsection shall be a fine of $1,000.00 or imprisonment for six months, or both. See here for enforcement of an RFA.

Domestic Assault in Vermont

The penalties for someone found guilty of the offense of domestic assault in the State of Vermont can result in being imprisoned not more than 18 months or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both. If found guilty of the offense of domestic assault in the State of Vermont the consequences include having a criminal misdemeanor conviction with no eligibility for expungement, as well no possession of a firearm for life. See here for the federal definition of a “firearm”.

Aggravated Domestic Assault in Vermont

The penalties for someone found guilty of the offense of aggravated domestic assault in the State of Vermont can result in being imprisoned not more than 15 years, or fined not more than $25,000.00, or both. If found guilty of the offense of aggravated domestic assault in the State of Vermont the consequences include having a criminal felony conviction with no eligibility for expungement, as well no possession of a firearm for life. See here for the federal definition of a “firearm”.

Violation of An Abuse Prevention Order (VAPO) in Vermont

The penalties for someone found guilty of the offense of violation of an abuse prevention order (VAPO) in the State of Vermont can result in terms of imprisonment and fines, depending on the nature of the violation. See here for the potential penalties. If found guilty of the offense violation of an abuse prevention order (VAPO) in the State of Vermont the consequences include having a criminal misdemeanor conviction with no eligibility for expungement, as well no possession of a firearm for life. See here for the federal definition of a “firearm”.

Jason Sawyer has represented hundreds of clients over the past 20 years, including many who have been charged with domestic violence and related offenses. As your attorney, he is committed to fighting for your rights and making a difference in the outcome of your case. Contact Jason online or call today – 802-658-6669 for a FREE consultation on your case.

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