Springfield Assault Lawyer
The offense of assault involves an intent to harm others, as well as some threat or action to carry out that intent to harm. The consequences of an assault conviction can be severe. As a result, if you or a loved one is facing assault charges, you may want to contact a Springfield assault lawyer right away.
Legal advice from a seasoned criminal defense lawyer may enable you to build a stronger defense against your criminal charges. It also may allow you to minimize some of the potential consequences of assault charges.
Legal Definition of Assault
Some states establish separate criminal offenses for assault and battery. An assault attorney in Springfield may advise that historically, the assault has consisted of threats to cause imminent harm, whereas battery has involved actual harmful physical contact. Under Va. Code § 18.2-57, however, the single criminal offense of assault contains elements of both assault and battery.
Assault may be a misdemeanor or a felony offense, depending on the circumstances. Generally, a simple assault charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor. When certain aggravating circumstances exist or the subject of the assault falls within a certain class of persons, however, the charges can increase.
Assault is typically classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor offense. The charge remains a misdemeanor if the targets of the assault are chosen based on their race, religion, color, or national origin, if they are school employees, or if they are doctors or other healthcare workers acting in the course of their official job duties. A conviction on a Class 1 misdemeanor assault charge can result in a jail sentence of up to one year and/or a $2,500 fine.
Although the conviction will still be a misdemeanor offense if the targets of the assault fall within those classes of persons listed above, penalties may include a mandatory minimum sentence of incarceration. For example, if the assault involves school officials or healthcare providers, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is 15 days.
Domestic Violence Assault
Virginia law does differentiate between assault involving acquaintances, strangers, or unrelated persons and assault involving family members, household members, or intimate partners. Under Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-57.2, a first domestic assault conviction is a Class 1 misdemeanor. As there can be severe consequences flowing from any level of a domestic violence conviction, however, individuals facing these charges may wish to consult a Springfield assault lawyer for advice.
An assault qualifies as domestic violence when the relationship between the parties to the assault is that of certain family or household members. Va. Code Ann. § 16.1-228 defines eligible family or household members as:
• Current or former spouses, individuals who live together or did live together within the last 12 months, along with their children
• Parents, stepparents, grandparents, siblings, or half-siblings
• Children or stepchildren and grandchildren
• Individuals who share children
If an assault results in bodily injury to certain groups of individuals, the charge increases to a Class 6 felony. This is the case for individuals intentionally targeted for assault due to their race, religion, color, or national origin. A Class 6 felony conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to five years.
Felony charges with a mandatory minimum term of incarceration also may result when the targets of an assault are law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency service personnel, corrections officers, and other public officials or employees when they are acting in the course of their official duties.
Due to the potential for a harsh sentence arising from felony assault charges, taking the time to speak to an accomplished defense attorney may be beneficial.
Another circumstance that can lead to felony assault charges is domestic violence cases in which individuals have two or more prior convictions for assault or a similar offense against a qualified family or household members. Prior convictions may occur in the state of Virginia or in other states.
Speak with a Springfield Assault Attorney
Working with a Springfield assault lawyer when you are facing any level of assault charges may be of advantage of to you. Even if the charge is a misdemeanor, having an assault conviction on your record can be detrimental to you, both personally and professionally.
With legal representation, you may be able to avoid or minimize some of the impact of the charges against you. Crafting a strong defense strategy may be the key to resolving these charges in a more positive manner.