Assault cases generally go to trial more than other types of criminal cases because they are dependent on a citizen’s testimony versus that of a law enforcement official who has investigated a case, witnessed it, and who may appear for the prosecution to be more credible. When you are dealing with assault and battery cases, you are dealing with a lot of gray areas as far as what a person’s intent was or whether the assault or the battery was done in self-defense, so it is extremely fact-specific.
The prosecution and the defense generally will not come to an agreement as to what happened, so it takes a judge or a jury to figure it out. Contact our office today to schedule your initial consultation with one of your Virginia assault trial lawyers.
Assault cases tend to go to trial more than other types of cases. As far as what factors determine whether or not the case goes to trial, each case is different. Did the person who suffered the harm, the victim, come into the altercation with clean hands or did they provoke the accused into some sort of altercation, for example. That would make a big difference, as well as whether there were other eyewitnesses to what happened, whether something was captured on videotape, or whether the accused made incriminating statements.
Those factors would make a difference as to whether a case would plead out or go to trial. Another factor is whether the exposure for trial is too great. If you’re dealing with a very serious charge, it might be in the best interest of the client to plead to a lesser offense rather than go to trial on a more serious offense because the exposure for prison time might be greater if he or she goes to trial.
In cases of misdemeanor assault, the mens rea is the criminal intent. They must prove that an intentional act was done with the purpose of putting a person in reasonable fear of bodily harm. This differs from malicious intent; malice is ill will towards another person.
Private defense attorneys have access to many resources. For example, they have access to private investigators that can be retained to investigate and interview civilian witnesses. This is extremely beneficial to the defense because if you are able to get witnesses to provide you with a statement well ahead of trial, that is advantageous. This locks them into a statement. If they then appear in court and say something different than what they told your investigator, the investigator is also going to be in court and they can then testify that the witness or victim made an inconsistent statement.That is helpful in impeaching their credibility as a witness.
In general, private attorneys have a lesser caseload than court-appointed attorneys or public defenders, so they are able to devote more time and energy to a certain case.
Also, an avenue that is generally used by private attorneys more than public defenders is the code section called accord and satisfaction, which allows for parties of any misdemeanor in which there is a wrong that could be satisfied by civil remedies, essentially payment of money, to negotiate a settlement prior to court. That way the defendant can then ask the court to dismiss the charge based on the victim being satisfied.
If you have private counsel, you tend to see creative measures like that imposed because the attorney likely has more experience and fewer cases to deal with than a public defender.
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