Turn to a Trusted Assault Lawyer Virginia
It’s all too common for one to lose their temper and have taken things further than expected. While for many, this can easily turn into a learning experience, for others, this momentary lapse of judgment has resulted in severe criminal charges. A moment of impulsivity and anger could lead to potential penalties that will damage your reputation for life if left at the prosecution’s mercy.
Is Assault or Physical Harm a Felony in Virginia?
Assault is sometimes charged as a felony in Virginia, and it is always punishable by law. If you happen to find yourself in such a situation and are charged with assault by Virginia criminal lawyer, it would be wise to get in touch with an experienced Virginia assault attorney to help you with the self-defense and settle the matter.
Assault vs. Battery
People tend to use these two names interchangeably, yet they are rather distinct. When you threaten an individual and make them fear for their lives, that is considered as an assault and could lead to assault charges even if there was no physical contact that occurred.
What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?
One of the first things a law school student learns is the difference between assault and battery.
An assault can be committed by performing an overt act intended to cause physical harm while having the present ability to inflict harm or by performing an overt act intended to place the victim in fear of bodily harm and actually placing the victim in reasonable fear of harm.
Assault is a threat that puts another person in reasonable fear of imminent harm. “Imminent” means that a person fears that the harm is to follow immediately, not later on. For example, threatening to punch someone in the face is simple assault; however, telling someone that you will punch them in the face one day is typically not considered simple assault. This is because “one day” is not an imminent threat.
On the other hand, the battery is the offensive touching of another person, even if the contact was not violent; the contact just must be offensive. The battery can be committed with your hands, or with tools like a baseball bat, or even by intentionally having your pet attack another person.
Unlike assault, battery requires actual contact with the victim. The battery also requires intent, meaning accidentally knocking into someone on the Metro would not be considered battery.
Domestic Assault Cases in Virginia
In Virginia, domestic assault cases are treated differently than regular simple assault cases.
To put it simply, an assault causes reasonable fear to an individual. On the other hand, if you make unwanted physical contact with another person to cause physical harm to them, then that is considered a battery. Even if the contact were not violent, it would still be considered an offense. If great bodily harm is intended, the assault will undoubtedly be charged as a felony.
The seriousness of a charge and the circumstances surrounding it will highly depend on the level of assault and battery themselves. For instance, a simple assault here in Virginia is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, resulting in jail time of up to a year.
However, if crimes of assault and battery are committed against a judge, correctional officer, firefighter, enforcement officer, or any other government servant, the accuser will have to go through a sentence of a minimum of six months.
What Is Simple Assault?
As defined in the U.S. legal system, simple assault is a type of assault that carries the most relaxed punishment and is the least severe form of assault from the wide variety of assault crimes.
Simple assault and simple assault and battery are Class 1 misdemeanors in Virginia. If you are convicted of simple assault or simple assault and battery, you could face up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine. In the large majority of cases, a first-time conviction for this charge will not be punished with a prison sentence.
It is important to note, however, that this is just the possible punishment for simple assault and simple assault and battery! Other underlying factors in your actions could easily change the type of assault crime you are charged with—some Virginia assault charges come with much more severe punishments.
It’s sometimes difficult to differentiate between aggravated and simple assault. Aggravated assault is a more severe assault as compared to simple assault. According to Virginia law, simple assault can be defined in two ways;
- The intentional act of causing another person to be in fear of a battery
- The attempt to cause harm to another person where the violent act is never committed
Some of the elements of simple assault are intent, reasonable apprehension, and harm.
Examples of Simple Assault
The following offenses could be considered simple assault in Virginia:
- Verbally threatening an individual
- Pushing someone in the case of a disagreement
- Raising a fist and moving it towards another person in a threatening manner
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Simple Assault Charge?
You will need a criminal defense attorney if you are charged with simple assault. Why? It is better to have experienced Virginia lawyers by your side to explain everything in detail and give you options.
What Is the Penalty for Simple Assault?
If a law enforcement officer arrests you for assault crimes, you most certainly know you will be facing, at minimum, misdemeanor criminal charges. Simple assault is a misdemeanor punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of six months or a maximum jail sentence of up to one year.
Virginia’s criminal justice system can also subject you to a maximum fine of up to $2,500, and you will be prohibited from returning to the place where the assault took place. You may also be ordered to seek counseling for anger management.
At times, the prosecutor and the defense may enter into a plea agreement where the defendant pleads guilty, and the judge has to determine the appropriate sentence. But the judge will always follow reasonable agreements between the prosecution and the defendant.
Other Types of Assault in Virginia
Virginia Code § 18.2-57 includes many different types of assault charges, specifying different charges by attorneys when considering the victim targeted, the use of a weapon, and if any injury results.
Assault as a Hate Crime, Assault as a Hate Crime with Injury
Under § 18.2-57(a), if you intentionally target a person to assault based on that person’s race, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, color, or nation of origin, you will be charged with assault as a hate crime according to Virginia criminal law. If convicted of this crime, you face a mandatory minimum of six months in jail, and up to a year in jail, in addition to a fine of up to $2,500.
Under § 18.2-57(b), if your assault as a hate crime results in injury to the victim, you will be charged with a Class 6 felony. If convicted of assault as a hate crime with injury, you will face a mandatory minimum of six months in jail and could face up to five years in prison, in addition to a fine of up to $2,500.
Assault on a Police Officer or Other Government Worker
Under § 18.2-57(c), assaulting a police officer or other government worker is a Class 6 felony. “Other government worker” includes, but is not limited to: judges, Department of Corrections employees, firefighters, and EMTs. If you are convicted of assault on a police officer or other government worker, you face a mandatory minimum of six months in jail and could face up to five years in prison, in addition to a fine of up to $2,500.
Assault of a Teacher
Under § 18.2-57(d), assaulting a private or public school employee when he or she is performing his or her duties is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A public or private school employee includes but is not limited to teachers, principals, vice-principals, and guidance counselors.
However, unlike simple assault, if you are convicted of assault of a teacher, you face a mandatory minimum of 15 days in jail and could face up to a year in prison.
If you assault a public or private school employee with a firearm or other weapon that is explicitly prohibited on school property and are convicted, you face a mandatory minimum of six months in jail rather than 15 days.
Assault of Health Care Workers
Under § 18.2-57(e), assaulting a doctor or nurse while he or she is performing his or her duties is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If you are convicted of this crime, you face a mandatory minimum of 15 days in prison and could face up to a year in prison.
Is Malicious Wounding Different From Assault in Virginia?
Virginia Code § 18.2-51 separates more extreme assault and battery crimes into another category known as malicious wounding. Malicious wounding occurs if you “maliciously shoot, stab, cut, or wound any person or by any means cause him or her bodily injury, with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill.”
Malicious wounding is a Class 3 felony. If you are convicted of malicious wounding, you face a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and could face up to 20 years in prison. In addition, you could face a fine of up to $100,000.
An Assault Charges Lawyer Can Explain the Criminal Charges
Your assault charges lawyer will most certainly explain everything and tell you some of the criminal charges you stand to face in Virginia courts. According to the Virginia Code, certain factors make assault crimes more severe offenses and elevate the severity of the punishment and charge from misdemeanor charges to felony charges.
For assaults considered as hate crimes or crimes against police officers or elected officials, it’s a Class 6 felony, and the penalties are a mandatory jail time of up to 5 years and a fine of $2,500.
According to Virginia Criminal Code, other assault charges in Northern Virginia that are considered as felonies include;
- Malicious wounding or unlawful wounding
- Reckless driving and endangerment
- Assault causing serious bodily injury such as permanent physical impairment to the alleged victim
Hire an Aggravated Virginia Criminal Lawyer
As mentioned earlier, aggravated assault is a more severe assault compared to simple assault. Aggravated assault may involve using weapons or when the alleged victim experiences violence, leading to aggravated malicious wounding or bodily injury. Aggravated assault is a felony offense punishable by one to twenty years of prison time.
Examples of Aggravated Assault
The following criminal acts could be considered aggravated assault in Virginia:
- Striking or threatening someone to strike them with a dangerous weapon
- Shooting or threatening a person to shoot them using a gun
- Assault with the intent to commit another felony crime such as drug crimes
- Assault against a member of a protected class such as law enforcement officers, health care providers, social service workers, or a person with a disability
Free Consultation: Get Legal Representation From Virginia Assault Lawyer
Assault cases could lead to serious criminal convictions if you ever find yourself being charged for the criminal offense. If that is not enough, a bad criminal record for assault, even a misdemeanor, won’t look good to potential employers, customers, landlords, or even investors.
Luckily, you can beat the odds with the help of an experienced Virginia assault lawyer. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony assault, facing the full weight of the criminal justice system is impossible to do alone.
Often, an assault arrest may occur after the incident takes place and the police investigate the crime. In those cases, the defendant may get a call from a detective informing the person that the police have an arrest warrant.
It is crucial that you contact an experienced assault attorney in that instance. An assault attorney can arrange a self-surrender at a scheduled time. This arrangement may save you from spending the night in jail, can speed up the booking process, and ultimately minimize the amount of time you spend in custody.
Get in touch with our Virginia criminal lawyer, Gretchen Taylor Pousson of Scrofano Law, who will help you fight that assault charge, protect your rights, and help you achieve a positive outcome.
Attorney Gretchen Taylor Pousson has over a decade of experience defending the people of Virginia in assault and battery cases as both a public defender and a private practitioner. He maintains a created an attorney-client relationship and will thoroughly investigate the charges against you and provide you with the best possible defense based on the facts of your situation.
The Virginia legal system is tough and unforgiving. If you have been arrested for any of the discussed assault and battery crimes or any other crime, contact Attorney Gretchen T. Pousson of Scrofano Law PC immediately for a free initial consultation and create a rock-solid defense strategy.
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