Stafford County Assault Lawyer
If you have been arrested after a fight, altercation, or confrontation in which someone was injured, or worse, you are probably facing a serious assault charge. However, there’s more to assault than just a simple fight. Many subjective factors must be taken into account, including the events leading up to the alleged assault, whether or not physical contact actually occurred, and the extent to which the complaining party was placed in fear of harm. This is why anyone accused of assault in Stafford County or anywhere in Northern Virginia should consult with a seasoned Stafford assault lawyer in order to prepare an effective defense.
Assault (and Battery)
Assault is the threat of bodily harm. It can be broadly defined as the victim being in “reasonable” fear of injury by the suspect’s words or actions. Battery is when the assault leads to the harmful contact. But in the Commonwealth, assault and battery are merged as if both occurred and it is a class 1 misdemeanor [Virginia Code Section 18.2-57]. It is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.
Criminal Offenses Where Assault and Battery Are Applied
Unlawful Wounding [Virginia Code Section 18.2-51] usually involves a weapon where the suspect shoots, cuts, or stabs the victim with the intent to “injure, maim, disable, disfigure or kill.” If done with malice, it is a class 3 felony [VA Code 18.2-10(c)]. If there was no malicious intent, the offense is a less serious class 6 felony [VA Code Section 18.2-10(f)].
Aggravated Malicious Wounding is injuring the victim so severally as to cause permanent physical disfigurement or damage with malicious intent. There are several other circumstances in which this offense may be charged. It is prosecuted as a class 2 felony [VA Code Section 18.2-51.2] and carries a prison sentence of 20 years to life, and a fine of up to $100,000.
Assault during Robbery or Burglary: This offense is charged during a theft crime where the suspect harmed the victim. Often, assault is an underlying charge that enhances the property crime to a more serious offense. Both theft crimes (robbery and burglary) allow for potential prison time as the punishment for these serious offenses [VA Code Section 18.2-58 and 18.2-91]. On the other hand, the aforementioned thefts could be the underlying charge, and the assault could be a primary violation, especially if the theft crime is a misdemeanor, and the assault qualifies as felony.
Assault and Battery of Protected Groups [VA Code Section 18.2-57(C)]. This is charged against suspects who assault police, corrections and parole officers, firefighters, and EMTs in the performance of their duties, if the suspect knows these people are part of the protected group. It also protects judges at all times. This is a class 6 felony. If convicted, the accused faces a mandatory minimum of six (6) months in addition to the potential of one to five years in prison.
Assaulting an Educator [VA Code Section 18.2-57(D)]. If a teacher, principal, or guidance counselor (while performing their duties) is assaulted, it is punished as a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by 15 days to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines, two days of which are a mandatory minimum.
Hate Crimes [VA Code Section 18.2-57(B)]. This statute is meant to protect people of all races, religions, colors, or national origins. If the suspect intentionally injures the victim based on any of the above parameters, this “bias crime” is prosecuted as class 6 felony punishable by at least six months in jail, with a mandatory period of confinement of 30 days.
Obviously, if the victim is seriously harmed in any of the three previous crimes, the more severe felony assault charges may await the alleged offender.
Domestic Assault in Stafford County
Virginia views domestic assault in a similar vein as traditional assault. This involves sexual, physical, or emotional “harm” to the victim. First-time offenders may be convicted and sentenced for a class 1 misdemeanor on their first or second offenses, up to one year in jail and/or a fine of $2,500. But a third offense is charged as a class 6 felony, with a the possibility of serving up to five years in prison and/or being assessed a $2,500 fine.
Domestic assault can also involve spousal rape or sexual assault (to either a spouse or a legal companion or a child) and can bring very serious felony penalties.
There are other variations of Virginia’s complicated assault statutes that are better explained by your Stafford assault lawyer, especially if they surround any domestic assault, where are a multitude of options and collateral consequences may exist for your specific case. And when facing any such charges, it is critical that your Stafford assault attorney conduct a thorough investigation of all evidence and interview witnesses.