Assault Defense Attorney Fairfax
In Virginia, there are several levels of assault type cases. The lowest level is simple assault and battery, which is a class 1 misdemeanor. Battery is defined as harmful or offensive contact. Assault is defined as the apprehension of a harmful or offensive contact. Therefore, even if you swing at the victim and miss, you can be found guilty of assault and battery because you created the apprehension of harmful contact. Virginia law provides for enhanced penalties if the Defendant intentionally selects the victim because of his race, religious conviction, color or national origin. In that type of case, the offense is considered a felony and the defendant faces 30 days mandatory minimum jail time. Additionally, if the victim is a police officer the offense is considered a felony and the defendant faces 6 months mandatory minimum jail time. Assault and battery on a family or household member is also a class 1 misdemeanor, however a third or subsequent conviction is considered a felony.
There are several defenses that can be argued against a charge of assault and battery. First, Virginia law allows you to defend yourself from attack so long as the force used to repel the attack is equal to the force being used to attack. For example, if someone comes at you with their bare fists you cannot stab them with a knife in self defense. Second, to be guilty of assault, the prosecutor must be able to prove that the contact or attempted contact was intentional. For example, if you accidentally bump into someone in a crowd, that is not considered an assault.
Another option is to have the case dismissed pursuant to an accord and satisfaction. This is an agreement between the defendant and the victim that the defendant pay a certain amount of money for the victim to drop the charges. The case must not involve family members or police officers, and the judge must accept the agreement for the charges to be dropped.
The next level in assault type cases are classified as malicious or unlawful wounding which are both felonies. In this type of case the prosecutor must prove that the defendant maliciously shoot, stab, cut, or wound any person or by any means cause him bodily injury, with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill. Again, there are enhanced penalties for wounding a law enforcement officer. The defenses mentioned above are also available in this type of case, however the accord and satisfaction is not possible.
The highest level of assault type cases are classified as aggravated malicious wounding, which is also a felony. In this type of case the prosecutor must prove that the defendant maliciously shoots, stabs, cuts or wounds any other person, or by any means causes bodily injury, with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable or kill, and the victim is thereby severely injured and is caused to suffer permanent and significant physical impairment.