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Virginia Assault Laws

Generally, “assault” is defined as the threat or use of force on an individual that causes the individual to have reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact. Assault can be a civil wrong (tort) or a crime. “Assault and battery,” in contrast, is generally defined as the combination of assault, followed by harmful or offensive contact. Assault is covered in the Code of Virginia, Title 18.2, Chapter 4, under Section 18.2-57. If you need assistance with an assault charge in Virginia, contact a Virginia assault lawyer.

Simple Assault / Simple Assault & Battery (Section 18.2-57(A))

In Virginia, simple assault or assault & battery is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The penalty for a Class 1 Misdemeanor is up to 12 months in jail and/or up to $2,500 in fines. Section 18.2-11(a).

Selecting Victim because of Race, Religion, Color, or Nationality (Section 18.2-57(A)-(B))

If the victim of simple assault, or assault & battery, is intentionally chosen by the accused because of the victim’s race, religious beliefs, color, or national origin, then accused faces harsher penalties: at least six months in jail with a 30-day mandatory minimum. Section 18.2-57(A).

However, if an individual commits assault and battery against a person who the individual intentionally selected because of the victim’s race, religious beliefs, color, or nationality, and the battery results in bodily injury, then the individual is guilty of a Class 6 felony. Section 18.2-57(B).

The penalties for a Class 6 felony are usually one to five years in prison, unless the discretion of the jury or the court calls for a lighter penalty. Section 18.2-10(f). However, in this case the penalty will include at least six months in jail, with a 30-day mandatory minimum (meaning no early release), and up to $2,500 in fines. Section 18.2-57(B).

Assaulting an Officer (Section 18.2-57(C))

If an individual commits assault, or assault & battery, against a person who the individual knows or has reason to know the victim is a law enforcement officer, judge, firefighter, correctional officer, or EMT, and the victim is performing his/her official duties when the individual commits the offense, then the individual is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

The individual will face the Class 6 felony penalties of one to five years in prison, and even if the jury or court decide to lessen the penalty the individual will still face a six-month mandatory minimum sentence (meaning no early release, probation, parole, etc.). Section 18.2-57(C); 18.2-10.

Assaulting an Educator (Section 18.2-57(D))

Furthermore, if an individual commits battery against a person who the individual knows or should know is a teacher, principal, or guidance counselor, and the victim is performing his/her official duties when the battery occurs, then the individual is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor are up to 12 months in jail and/or up to $2,500 in fines- but this violation carries a minimum sentence of 15 days in jail, with a two-day mandatory minimum.

If the individual committed the battery against a school-employee as described above with a gun or other weapon then the individual, if convicted, must serve a six-month mandatory minimum jail sentence. Section 18.2-57(D).

Assaulting a Healthcare Provider (Section 18.2-57(E))

If an individual commits battery against a person who the individual knows or should know is a health care provider while the victim is performing his/her duties in a facility providing emergency care, then the individual is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Apart from the penalties of a Class 1 misdemeanor, which are up to 12 months in jail and/or up to $2,500 in fines, the individual will be sentenced to at least 15 days in jail, including a two-day mandatory minimum. Section 18.2-11; 18.2-57(E).

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