FAIRFAX DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILL FIGHT ASSAULT AND BATTERY CHARGES
Being charged with assault or battery is serious. You could be sent to jail, placed on probation, and ordered to pay a substantial fine. But simply because you’ve been charged with a crime, it doesn’t mean that you’re guilty. You have rights and options. Good legal help is available.
You’re about to learn what constitutes assault in Virginia, what constitutes battery, how these crimes are penalized, and what to do if you are charged with either crime or both. Although the words “assault” and “battery” are commonly used together, in Virginia they are separate crimes.
How are assault and battery defined by Virginia law? Battery is defined as touching another person – without that person’s consent – in a vengeful or aggressive manner. Assault is defined as putting another person in reasonable fear of an imminent battery.
WHAT IS “SIMPLE” ASSAULT?
In this state, assault can happen at the same time as battery, or it can happen with no battery taking place. When battery doesn’t happen, the crime is usually charged as “simple” assault.
In fact, “simple assault” is the most common assault and battery charge in Virginia. It’s a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable on conviction by up to twelve months in jail.
If the assault involves aggravating circumstances such as strangulation or what Virginia law calls “malicious wounding,” the assault will be charged as a felony punishable with five to twenty years in prison and a substantial fine.
WHO ARE PERSONS OF “PROTECTED” STATUS IN VIRGINIA?
A felony is also the charge when an assault is committed upon a “protected” victim and the alleged perpetrator knows about the victim’s protected status. Protected persons include:
- correctional officers and employees
- emergency medical personnel
- law enforcement officers, firefighters, and judges
HOW IS “DOMESTIC” ASSAULT AND BATTERY HANDLED?
“Domestic” assault is an assault against a family member or a household member. It is charged as a misdemeanor unless the assault is aggravated or unless the defendant has prior convictions for any crime of domestic violence. Family members and household members include:
- spouses and former spouses or unmarried parents of the same child
- parents and children
- grandparents and grandchildren
- siblings or in-laws who live in the same residence
- any persons who have lived together in the same residence in the previous year
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR ASSAULT AND BATTERY CONVICTIONS?
Listed here are the assault and battery crimes most frequently prosecuted in Virginia and the possible penalties for convictions:
- Simple assault, assault and battery, assault on a family member, and assault as a hate crime are Class 1 misdemeanors punishable on conviction with up to twelve months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Assault on a law enforcement officer, strangulation, and unlawful wounding are Class 6 felonies punishable on conviction with up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Malicious wounding is a Class 3 felony punishable on conviction with up to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
HOW CAN YOU FIGHT AN ASSAULT CHARGE IN VIRGINIA?
Self-defense is the most common defense offered in assault and battery cases. To establish self-defense, a defendant must demonstrate that he or she:
- was responding to a plausible threat of unlawful force or harm
- honestly and reasonably feared harm
- did not provoke the other person
- perceived no reasonable chance of retreating or escaping from the situation
The defense of others is a claim similar to self-defense, with the only difference being that the individual must have had an honest and real fear of harm to another person. Other defenses that may be offered against assault and battery charges include:
- You’ve been misidentified, and someone else committed the crime.
- No assault happened, and you are the victim of a fabricated allegation.
WILL YOU NEED A DEFENSE ATTORNEY?
Of course, the details of your defense will depend on the details of the charge against you. To avoid a conviction, you’ll need to have a Fairfax assault and battery attorney review the charge or charges against you and develop an appropriate, effective defense strategy on your behalf.
The right defense strategy is crucial, but prevailing against an assault or battery charge will also require the skills of a criminal defense attorney who will fight for justice, protect your rights, and bring your assault or battery case to its best possible outcome.
IF YOU FACE AN ASSAULT OR BATTERY CHARGE
Since 2000, Fairfax assault and battery attorney Scott C. Nolan has represented clients facing assault and battery charges in the Fairfax area and throughout Northern Virginia.
He is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He has a 10.0 “Top Lawyer” rating with AVVO, the national attorney rating service. He’s an attorney that thousands have relied on over the last two decades.
To learn more, or to schedule a legal consultation, call Scott C. Nolan’s law offices or reach out to him online. If your future and your freedom are at risk because you’ve been charged with assault or battery, having good legal help is your right.