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If you have been charged with assault and acted in self-defense or you believe the charges substantially overshadow the seriousness of the offense, it is important that you quickly find a Prince William County assault lawyer who can help you effectively tell your side of the story.
Although some assault cases involve a random attack, most result from a simple disagreement or argument between two or more people that escalated into physical contact or violence. When this occurs, there is a potential for criminal assault charges. Depending on factors such as the seriousness of the injuries, or if a weapon was involved in the altercation, a person may be charged either with misdemeanor or felony. A skilled defense attorney could help with either situation.
When law enforcement offices arrive on the scene, their judgment can be influenced by various witness statements and physical injuries, which may not provide a truly accurate account of what actually happened.
Simple assault does not require that the assailant actually come into contact with a person—only the intent to harm or offend and the creation of reasonable apprehension of harmful or offensive contact in the mind of the victim. Battery involves the actual infliction of harmful or offensive contact upon another person, whether willfully or in anger, by touching another person, spitting, or any other means set in motion by the defendant’s actions.
Under Virginia Criminal Code – Section 18.2-57, common law “assault and battery” are codified as one crime, a Class 1 misdemeanor. In Virginia, this criminal offense must have two elements:
This charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalty for a conviction for assault and battery is up to 12 months in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,500.
Domestic assault charges have the same elements and penalties as the assault and battery charges. The difference is that the victim is a member of the defendant’s family or household.
For first-time offenders, an experienced Prince William County assault lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to have the charges dismissed if the defendant successfully completes certain conditions, as outlined in Virginia Code Section 18.2-57.3.
When simple assault, or assault and battery, is committed against a person intentionally because of his race, religious conviction, color or national origin, it carries a penalty of at least six months in jail with a mandatory minimum of 30 days incarceration. Section 18.2-57(A).
If the hate-motivated attack results in bodily injury to the victim, it may be charged as a Class 6 felony. A conviction can result in confinement of at least six months and carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 30 days in jail. Section 18.2-57(B).
Assaulting a judge, police officer, firefighter, probation offices, or emergency medical personnel while in the course of performing their official duties has very serious consequences. It is a Class 6 felony which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, to include mandatory minimum term of six months and may include a fine of up to $2,500. Depending on the facts established in the case, the penalties for a conviction can be even more extreme.
In Virginia, aggravated malicious wounding is a serious crime with several key elements. First, malice refers to a state of mind where the accused intentionally acts to cause harm (without legal justification like self-defense).
The Virginia Criminal Code – Section 18.2-51 classifies this charge as a Class 3 felony offense. It is punishable with a sentence of five to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000.
One can also be charged with unlawful wounding, a separate crime. For an unlawful wounding conviction the prosecutor has to prove two elements: (1) that the defendant shot, stabbed, cut or caused bodily harm to another person, and (2) that the defendant intended to maim, disfigure, disable, disfigure, or kill the other person at the time the act was committed.
A Class 6 felony conviction can potentially lead to a prison term of one to five years imprisonment or a jail sentence of up to 12 months and/or a fine of $2,500.
If the incident actual resulted in permanent, disfiguring or severe harm, the accused may charged under Virginia Code Section 18.2-51.2, the aggravated malicious wounding statute. It is a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to life in prison—with a minimum prison sentence of 20 years, and a fine of up to $100,000.
A Prince William County assault lawyer experienced in handling assault cases can analyze your case and put together a strong defense. Self-defense is an acceptable justification in some circumstances, but not others. With so many factors, each case is different and there are a number of possible defenses.
No matter what the situation, contact a trained Prince William County assault lawyer for a free confidential consultation. Bring any questions you have, and discuss your options today. Or, learn more about how a criminal attorney can help with other criminal charges in Prince William County.
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