Your Virginia Legal Team

Virginia Abuse Laws

There are different kinds of abuse in Virginia: child abuse and abuse of an incapacitated adult. Below is a brief overview of the statutes and laws that cover these areas.

Child Abuse (Virginia Code Ann. Section 18.2-371.1)

Under Virginia law, an individual is guilty of child abuse if (1) the individual is a parent, guardian, or person otherwise responsible for the child’s care, who (2) by means of intentional acts or failure to act or refusal to provide care necessary for the child’s health, (3) causes or allows serious injury (see note below) to the child’s life and/or health. Section 18.2-371.1(A).

Serious injury is defined in Section 18.2-371.1(A) to include, but is not to be limited to:

(a)  Broken or fractured bones;

(b)  Severe burns or deep cuts;

(c)   Mutilation (injury that would deprive the child of a limb or important body part);

(d)  Disfigurement;

(e)  Forced ingestion of dangerous chemicals, substances, or objects;

(f)    Life-threatening internal injuries, or;

(g)  Maiming (injury causing permanent damage).

Child abuse, as described in the section above, is a Class 4 felony. Section 18.2-371.1(A). Thus, an individual guilty of child abuse in such a case would face a felony conviction with two to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $100,000. Section 18.2-10(d).

Reckless Disregard

As a lesser charge, if any parent’s or guardian’s intentional actions or omissions regarding child care are so blatantly deliberate and culpable that the actions reflect a reckless disregard for human life, then the parent or guardian is guilty of child abuse or child neglect as a Class 6 felony. Section 18.2-371.1(B).

Thus, the guilty individual would be facing a felony conviction with one to five years in prison, OR, at the discretion of a jury or the court, a potentially lessened penalty of up to 12 months in jail and/or up to $2,500 in fines. Section 18.2-10(f).

Abuse of an Incapacitated Adult (Section 18.2-369)

The state of Virginia takes abuse of incapacitated adults very seriously. An “incapacitated adult” is defined as someone who is at least 18 years old and who lacks the ability to understand, make, or communicate reasonable decisions regarding their well-being. Section 18.2-369(C). In particular, the term incapacitated adult is a label that applies to people afflicted with “mental illness, intellectual disability, physical illness or disability, or advanced age.” Section 18.2-369(C).

This crime only applies to individuals who are responsible for an incapacitated adult. Section 18.2-369(A). A person is considered to be responsible for an incapacitated adult if an individual (a) by law, by contract, or voluntarily (b) accepts responsibility for the custody and care of an incapacitated adult. Section 18.2-369(C).

Under Section 18.2-369(C) an individual is guilty of abuse of an incapacitated adult if the individual does either of the following:

(1)   Knowingly and deliberately acting in a way that causes the incapacitated adult physical pain or injury, or;

(2)   Knowingly and deliberately keeping the incapacitated adult physically restrained or confined, for the purpose of convenience, punishment, or as a substitute for proper treatment.

However, conduct that falls under (2) is not abuse if the conduct is a component of proper care and treatment carried out in the interest of protecting the incapacitated adult’s health and safety. Section 18.2-369(C).

Abuse Without Injury

If an individual is guilty of abuse of an incapacitated adult but the abuse does not result in serious bodily injury or disease, then the crime is treated as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Section 18.2-369(A). In such a case, the individual faces penalties of up to 12 months in jail and / or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a).

However, if an individual guilty of abuse of an incapacitated adult without serious bodily injury or disease has a prior offense of abusing incapacitating adults, then the individual’s crime is considered a Class 6 felony. Section 18.2-369(A). If the individual is facing an abuse charge as a Class 6 felony, then the individual faces penalties of a felony conviction with one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of a jury or the court, lessened penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f).

Abuse Resulting In Injury

If an individual is guilty of abuse of an incapacitated adult and results in serious bodily injury or disease then the crime is considered a Class 4 felony. Section 18.2-369(B). Thus, the individual would be facing a felony conviction with two to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $100,000. Section 18.2-10(d).

If an individual is guilty of abuse of an incapacitated adult and the abuse results in the death of the incapacitated adult, then the crime is a Class 3 felony. Section 18.2-369(B). In such a case, the individual faces a felony conviction with five to 20 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $100,000. Section 18.2-10(c).

Neglect of an Incapacitated Adult (Section 18.2-369(C))

The crime of neglecting an incapacitated adult has the same penalties as abuse, with the only difference being that neglect is defined as the intentional failure of an individual to provide necessary treatment, care, goods, and services to the incapacitated adult, the failure of which causes injury or at least endangers the safety of the incapacitated adult. Section 18.2-369(C).

Contact Us

Do not send us confidential information related to you or your company until you speak with one of our attorneys and get authorization to send that information to us.

Copyright 2020 Virginia Criminal Lawyer. All rights reserved. Disclaimer/Privacy Policy