In Virginia, you can be charged with either “assault”, which is sometimes called “simple assault”, or “assault and battery.” People often believe “simple assault” and “assault and battery” are the same thing, but they are two distinct types of crimes. The main legal difference between the two is that simple assault does not involve physical contact with another, while battery does.
Simple assault may be charged if you take an overt act intended to do bodily harm to another together with the present ability to cause such harm, or an overt act intended to place a person in fear or apprehension of bodily harm that creates in that person a reasonable fear or apprehension.
For example, you may threaten to hit or otherwise harm someone but don’t make physical contact, but the other person believes you will cause them harm from your threat. This type of encounter may be charged as simple assault.
In another case, you may try to strike someone but miss. In this case, even though you only attempted to harm someone and did not make physical contact, it still may qualify as an assault charge.
Assault and battery are considered profoundly serious crimes under Virginia law! If you’ve been charged with assault or battery (or both) in Virginia, the penalties you may face will vary significantly, depending on the specific details of your case. Simple assault and assault and battery are classified as Class 1 misdemeanors. Conviction for a Class 1 misdemeanor carries a fine of up to $2500 and/or jail time of twelve months. This is a criminal charge that will permanently remain on your record if convicted.
The best thing to do is to consult with a Roanoke criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible, so they can work to “get ahead” of your charges and minimize any consequences you may face.
What Are Some Possible Defenses For My Assault Charge in Virginia?
In Roanoke and all of Virginia, being charged with assault is always a serious offense, and you could face misdemeanor or felony charges and jail time.
You and your Roanoke assault & battery defense lawyer must get ahead of these charges as soon as possible. An experienced, professional Virginia criminal defense law team will review every detail of your case and devise a legal strategy that may help in either reducing your charges or, if convicted, the penalties you will incur.
In most assault & battery cases, your lawyer will look for flaws in the police investigation or conflicting witness accounts that could poke legal holes through the prosecution’s case.
Some of the most common defenses that your lawyer may use are:
- You acted in self-defense, or you were attempting to protect another person.
- You did not act willfully; therefore, you cannot be charged.
- You have been wrongfully accused of the attack.
- You could not inflict harm or force on someone else due to a physical limitation.
It’s common to defend and assault charges by proving you acted in self-defense, which will allow you to clear yourself of all criminal charges. To prove that self-defense was used in a case of physical assault, you must prove that there was a threat of force or harm against you and that you had to act to protect yourself.
What Must the Virginia Prosecutor Prove In My Assault Case?
Assault & battery cases are legally complex and must be thoroughly investigated and analyzed so that your defense is tailored to the detailed specifics of your case. The weight of the proof is on the prosecutor, and they must always prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. There are numerous actions that could support a charge of assault, and some common ones the prosecutor must prove are that you committed an act that:
- By its very nature may directly result in the application of force to another.
- That you performed this act willfully.
- You were aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that the act would directly result in applying force to someone.
- Resulted in the touching of another, without legal excuse or justification, done in an angry, rude, insulting, or vengeful manner.
Your experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyer will use the specific details of your case to find ways to invalidate the above points. However, each case differs from what occurred, so the sooner your professional defense can begin, the better your chance to mitigate or reduce your consequences.
Are There Different Types of Assault Charges in Virginia?
The simple legal answer is, yes, and they all may carry different consequences. The penalties can be far more severe for more felony assault charges.
There are various felony charges for assaulting someone that may be placed depending on the specific circumstances of your case. If you caused severe injuries to the other person, then everything may differ, and you may pay higher fines and do significantly more jail time than if you simply verbally threatened them.
If your crime is considered a hate crime, where the assault or battery charge may be due to the other’s race, religion, color, or national origin, you may face felony charges that carry much more extreme penalties.
Generally, a felony charge will be placed if you maliciously shoot, stab, cut, or wound any person or by any means cause the other person bodily injury, with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill. This is classified as a Class 3 felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than 20 years. However, if such acts are done unlawfully but not maliciously, then you may be convicted of Class 6 felony, punishable not less than one year nor more than five years in prison, or alternatively, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and/or a fine of not more than $2,500. Additionally, there are many other types of felony and misdemeanor assaults that may be charged, many of which carry mandatory sentences depending on the circumstances.
The simple truth is that if you are charged with any type of assault, you must consult with a qualified, professional, and knowledgeable Roanoke criminal defense lawyer. Due to the complex nature of these cases and their dire consequences, your freedom could depend upon the knowledge and ability of your lawyer.
I Have Been Charged With Assault in Virginia; How Should I Proceed?
First, leave nothing to chance, as you could be facing life-changing consequences for yourself and your loved ones. Each case differs and must be investigated, evaluated, and professionally presented. Consult with a Roanoke criminal defense lawyer that has been professionally and successfully representing Virginia clients in assault cases for years. They will give you the expertise, empathy, and aggressive representation you now desperately need. Consult with them immediately, and don’t gamble with your freedom or future.