Prince William County Assault on an Officer Lawyer
Assault on an officer is an attempt or threat to inflict bodily injury on a law enforcement officer who is performing their job duties. This assault is in connection with their employment and accompanied with the apparent present ability to carry out the attempt or the threat. Pursuant to Virginia code section 18.2-57, subsection C, the accused would be guilty of a class six felony and must serve a minimum of six months in jail, if convicted.
Due to these serious penalties, if you have been charged with assaulting a police officer, it is important that you retain an experienced Prince William County assault on an officer lawyer immediately to begin building a defense.
Defining a Law Enforcement Officer
There is a long list of individuals that are considered law enforcement and protected under Virginia code. Law enforcement includes correctional officers, those directly involved in the care, treatment, or supervision of inmates in the custody of the Department of Corrections, a person directly involved in the care, treatment, or supervision of persons in the custody of or under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice, and many others.
Since one of the elements of assault and battery on a law enforcement officer is that it must occur in the scope of their employment as a law enforcement officer, it is not assault and battery on a law enforcement officer when an assault of the officer occurs outside of the officer performing job duties.
The penalties for assault on a law enforcement officer, which is punishable as a class six felony, is between one and five years in prison, up to 12 months in jail, and/or a fine. By statute, however, if a person is found guilty of this offense, they will have a mandatory sentence of six months of incarceration.
Because of the severity of the penalties associated with the charge, an individual should consult with a Prince William County assault on an officer attorney to help minimize any possible consequences.
Examples of Assault
There are many incidents that could lead to someone being charged with assault on a law enforcement officer. The most typical incident occurs when someone is out of control at the time of their arrest and takes a swing, strikes, spits, or otherwise pushes the officer’s hand away to prevent the arrest or out of anger. It is also not uncommon when an officer restrains a person for the person to get aggressive with the officer, which could also result in assault charges.
Severity of the Charge
When the victim is a law enforcement officer, it does change the case significantly. In a simple assault, a person may be more inclined to have their day in court. When someone is charged with assault and battery of a law enforcement officer, there is more incentive for the accused to negotiate a plea agreement, rather than face the possibility of a felony conviction and the mandatory period of incarceration. For these reasons, an individual who is facing such a charge should not wait in contacting a Prince William County assault on an officer lawyer to defend themselves.
Impact of Police Body Cameras
Body camera footage is important in assault on law enforcement officer cases because it removes the case from any “he said, she said” allegations and allows the truth to be viewed with minimal distortion. With the further spread and proper use of body cameras, that will continue to be the trend. The use of dash cameras and third party cameras, such as cellular telephone videos or security cameras, all help provide a more accurate picture of what actually happens during these incidents.
All defenses that may be available to private citizens, such as self-defense or mutual combat, are available in assault on law enforcement officer cases. If the person did not know that the person that they assaulted is a law enforcement officer, that would also be a defense to the specific element of the offense.
This comes up when there was a limited amount of communication between the accused and the officer or when an officer is attempting to execute a high risk arrest and the person strikes back not realizing that the other person is a law enforcement officer. All of these defenses can be efficiently employed by a Prince William County assault on an officer lawyer.