In Fredericksburg, aggravated assault is a class six felony, which means it carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a maximum fine of up to $2,500.00. There is also a mandatory minimum punishment of six months in jail. The same penalties apply if convicted of an assault on a law enforcement officer, which is also a class 6 felony.
The mandatory minimum is important to note because regardless of what the elements of the case are, or how a jury may feel about the person on trial, there is no way to avoid jail time upon conviction if the assault charges are categorized as aggravated assault. Even the minimum of six months in jail, combined with the stigma that comes along with being a convicted felon, is enough to significantly hinder someone’s future prospects. Because of the lasting impact that an aggravated assault conviction in Fredericksburg can carry through a person’s life, working with a diligent and skilled Fredericksburg assault attorney immediately after being charged is crucial.
The maximum sentence of five years in jail is extremely difficult to rebound from, and any jail time can throw someone’s entire life off track. On top of incarceration, the fine of up to $2,500 combined with court costs is a difficult sum of money to pay for many. The classification of aggravated assault as a felony also means that conviction loses a person the right to vote, the right to possess a firearm, and now a whole new array of charges that are only applicable to felons could potentially come their way in the future.
If a convicted felon goes to a gun store or a pawnshop, and they fill out the paperwork to buy a gun forgetting that their assault is a felony assault, they accidentally missed a checkbox, or whatever the case may be, the moment that it comes back that they are in fact a felon they have now violated a new law for lying in order to possess a firearm, which is another felony.
For example, if a person is convicted of a felony assault on a law enforcement officer back when they were 18 years old, they may serve the six-month minimum and move along with life. Twenty years later, if that same person goes to the Dick’s Sporting Goods with some friends to go hunting, and while filling out the paperwork to see if they can get a rifle and they ask if they have been convicted of a felony that the same person could disclose that they were convicted for assault, the employee might believe they were convicted of a misdemeanor, and the employee would honestly believe that person does not have any felonies. But the moment that they come back as a felon, a brand new charge of lying to possess a firearm after being convicted of a felony comes up. Felonies can haunt people the rest of their life if not handled correctly.
Even if the individual did not know that their charge was a felony charge, the person will still face charges for lying about their felony in order to possess a weapon. The police’s approach to most things is if they have got the requisite probable cause, even if it is on the line, they will just throw it up against the wall and then see what sticks, because it does not matter if they ultimately get the case dismissed, they will just charge somebody else. Ultimately, it is up to an individual to defend themselves.
Legally, it is the Commonwealth’s burden to prove that someone had the intent to defraud the gun owner or the gun store owner when trying to purchase the firearm but, practically speaking a defendant has got to prove that it was an accident, not that they have to prove that they did it on purpose. Because the person has been charged already, everyone is more likely to believe the police, and there is going to be that burden they believe that the person is lying.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law