Fredericksburg Simple Assault Lawyer
Simple assault is the intentional inflicting of bodily harm to another or engaging in an overt act with the intent to place another person in fear of bodily harm. Simple assault is classified as a class 1 misdemeanor, which is the highest-level misdemeanor, and it carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500.
There is no mandatory minimum penalty for simple assault, so a judge or a jury does not have to put someone found guilty of simple assault. Sentences for convictions can range anywhere from no time in jail to up to 12 months. If you have been charged with simple assault, contact an experienced assault defense lawyer right away. Fredericksburg simple assault lawyers can provide valuable insight and advice about what actions to take at each different step in the process to receive the best possible outcome.
Specific Elements of Simple Assault
An element of simple assault in Fredericksburg is unwanted contact or attempted contact between the parties involved. The issue of whether the contact or attempted contact in question is wanted or unwanted can come up in situations where someone is instigating a fight. A person cannot claim contact was unwanted if they are struck after were instigating a fight and provoking the other party involved to strike them.
The unwanted contact must have been done with the intent to harm, which is the last element of categorizing simple assault. If the unwanted contact is accidental, like in situations where a person tripped and fell into someone unintentionally inflicted harm on them, or gave a “high-five” to someone during a joyous occasion and unintentionally harmed their hand, it would not be considered assault.
If a person is not trying to touch or consequently harm somebody, then it is not an assault. For an altercation to be considered assault there must be contact, the contact must be unwanted, it must be done by the defendant, and it must be done with the intent to harm. If any of these elements are not present in a case, a simple assault lawyer in Fredericksburg can help a defendant build a defense based on the circumstances surrounding the incident and potentially mitigate serious penalties.
Types of Misdemeanor Assault
There are two basic types of misdemeanor assaults according to Fredericksburg law. Class 1 misdemeanor assaults are simple assaults as opposed to domestic assault. The difference between a simple assault and a domestic assault is the additional element that the allegedly harmed party in the incident was either:
- Family member— including parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, and grandparents
- Family member by marriage— including parent-in-laws or sibling-in-laws
- Somebody the person is married to or currently in a relationship with
- Someone with whom the person has one or more children
The biggest thing that separates domestic assault from simple assault is a simple assault and assault and battery is still considered Class 1 misdemeanors even if the defendant has prior offenses of simple assault or assault and battery. It is forever going to be a class 1 misdemeanor. In cases of domestic assault, if the defendant has been convicted of at least two previous domestic assault, their third or subsequent domestic assault is elevated to a Class Six felony.
This is a compound felony, meaning if that person continues to commit multiple domestic assaults (not necessarily to the same victim), their subsequent convictions or charges of a domestic assault will then be elevated from a Class 1 misdemeanor where they can max out at 12 months to a Class Six felony where that person could face up to five years in prison. Even if the elements of the contact in assault remain the exact same from the cases in a person’s first two domestic assault convictions, that assault is still elevated to a class six felony. Whether dealing with a case of a misdemeanor or felony assault, it is equally important to seek the aid of a simple assault attorney in Fredericksburg because of the nature of these cases.
Virginia has a two-tier court system—the General District Court and the Circuit Court. The General District Court has the jurisdiction to hear guilt and innocence on all trafficking infractions and all misdemeanors from class four to class 1. The Circuit Court has the jurisdiction to hear all cases on guilt and innocence at all matters, including felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions.
Most assault cases take place in the General District Court, are heard by a judge, and the judge will decide guilt or innocence. These cases can ultimately go to the circuit court upon appeal if the defendant who is convicted chooses to appeal their case to the Circuit Court, but the vast majority of assault cases are handled and taken care of in the General District Court in Fredericksburg.