Prince William County Assault Lawyer
In Virginia, assault and battery are merged into one singular offense. Assault is the use of a threat of force or imminent violence that puts a person in a reasonable apprehension of bodily harm. The battery element is the unwanted touching.
The penalties for assault can often be serious and should only be defended with the help of an experienced attorney. If you have been charged with assault, A Prince William County assault lawyer can gather all the necessary evidence to mount a strong defense on your behalf. An attorney can assist in lessening or dismissing any penalties you may be facing.
Defining an Assault Charge
In the absence of battery, apprehension of bodily harm or bodily injury is most often seen when assault is a standalone charge. Virginia law requires that there be a reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm or injury to prove assault. There must be enough reasonable fear so another person in the same circumstance would also have been in fear of bodily harm or injury. The fear must be imminent; it is not an assault when the threat is for potential harm is not for years in the future.
Assault vs. Battery
In Virginia, assault and battery are both found in Section 18.2-27 of the Code of Virginia. They are a merged offense, which means that someone is charged with violating that code section if they commit an assault, a battery, or both. Being charged with assault and battery is the most common scenario, however, an individual can have an assault without a battery and can actually have a battery without an assault.
A common example of assault, without battery, requires someone to rush toward the other person with a weapon or their fists raised, while shouting threats of physical violence. Since the aggressor’s actions are aligned with their words, the victim would have reasonable fear because of the present capacity to commit the acts threatened. An experienced Prince William County assault lawyer can help an individual determine the specifics of their charge.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
If someone attacks another with an object that is capable of inflicting serious injury or death, they may be punished with the more serious offense of assault with a deadly weapon. Additionally, if someone is charged with possessing a deadly weapon at the time of the assault, the offense may be aggravated from a class one misdemeanor to a class six felony.
Virginia code section 15.2-308, the concealed weapons statute, provides examples of objects that are considered deadly weapons. Some of those weapons include pistols, revolvers, dirks, bowie knives, switch blades, razors, slingshots, throwing stars, or fighting chains, among others.
It is not generally common for ordinary objects to be considered deadly weapons in assault cases. They are normally one of the weapons listed or a variation of such weapon.
If someone used an ordinary object in the commission of an assault to the degree it was considered assault with a deadly weapon, the accused would be charged with malicious wounding or unlawful wounding, both of which are felony offenses.
Severity of the Charge
Law enforcement takes assault charges very seriously. Assault is treated as the tip of the iceberg in protecting individuals against physical violence. It is the primary directive of law enforcement to protect the citizenry. The most common assault charges in Prince William County are the results of altercations, road rage incidents, bar disputes, and domestic disputes. Any of these charges can be effectively defended by a Prince William County assault attorney.
The length of the investigation depends on the case, but commonly assault investigations proceed quickly. The investigation determines whether an arrest is necessary to calm the situation, especially when the alleged assault occurs outside of the officer’s presence, which is most common.
For offenses committed in an officer’s presence, they can make an immediate arrest. Officers take as much time as necessary to investigate the potential issues before making an arrest.
Assault charges are intimidating for clients because if convicted, the sentence may include up to 12 months in jail, up to $2,500 fine, or a combination thereof. The court could also impose post-conviction requirements, such as probation or anger management classes.
The prosecution is trying to prove all of the elements of this offense beyond a reasonable doubt. For an assault charge, the prosecution has to prove that there was a threat or other action that places the victim in reasonable fear or apprehension of bodily harm or injury. The state would also have to protect their cases against affirmative defenses.
A defense against the prosecution can be crafted using a Prince William County assault lawyer. The assistance of an attorney can have an invaluable impact on your case, and may lead to a minimizing or complete dismissal of any penalties you are facing.
Benefits of an Attorney
There is a stigma to being arrested and ultimately convicted of an assault charge because of the public perception that the person may be out of control, act with aggression or intimidation, or bullies and takes advantage of people. An assault charge and conviction suggests that the person is a danger to the community as well. To avoid such a stigma, it is important that an individual consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
Assault charges have unique defenses, including statutory defenses, common law defenses, and other tactics that an experienced and qualified Prince William County assault lawyer can use that may help someone avoid an assault conviction. Additionally, there may be other judicial remedies when charged with assault, including deferred findings, suspended deposition of sentence, or an accord and satisfaction, which is actually a civil remedy for a criminal charge. It is important to have an attorney that is skilled and knowledgeable about these remedies, when they apply, how to approach them, and how to evaluate your case to help get the best outcome.