Simple vs. Aggravated Assault and Battery in Virginia

When most people hear the word “assault,” they think of someone getting physically struck by another person. However, that is NOT the definition of assault in Virginia or many other jurisdictions. Assault means someone has only threatened to hurt another person physically and accompanied that threat with a physical motion indicating the assaulter intends to follow through with that threat. Assault is defined as “intentionally putting another person in reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.” 

Battery occurs when someone follows through with the assault and strikes or makes an offensive contact with a person. Spitting, even though no injury may result, is an offensive touching that can be punished as an assault and battery under Virginia law. 

Simple Assault and Battery

Unless an assault and battery results in serious bodily injury inflicted upon a special person (more on that below) or is performed with a dangerous weapon (e.g., a gun or a knife), it is described as simple assault or assault and battery. In Virginia, either is classified as a Class One misdemeanor, and it comes with a fine of up to $2500 and up to 12 months in prison. Additionally, a judge may require you to enroll in anger management courses, participate in a designated amount of community service hours, or other types of treatment depending upon the circumstances of the incident.

The consequences of conviction for simple assault or assault and battery are serious. They remain on your criminal record and are likely to surface during a background check. Unlike some charges, the convictions cannot be expunged after a designated period of time. You owe it to yourself and your future to speak with a criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. 

Felony Forms of Assault and Battery Explained

The difference between misdemeanor assaults and battery and unlawful or malicious wounding is the nature of the victim’s injury. While an assault and battery requires only an “offensive touching,” unlawful wounding and malicious wounding require the victim to sustain an injury as a result of the contact. When a weapon, like a gun or knife, is used, the presence of that weapon is presumed to indicate “malice.” Unlike misdemeanor assault and battery, unlawful wounding and malicious wounding are both felonies. Unlawful wounding is Class 6 felony, which can result in a prison sentence of up to five years and a $2,500 fine. Malicious wounding is Class 3 felony, which can result in a prison sentence of at least five years and up to 20 years and a fine of up to $100,000. You can also still be required to attend specific classes and courses while accumulating a pre-set amount of community service hours. 

It is important to note that we are discussing these through the context of state crimes. Regarding federal crimes, there are mandatory minimums regarding the sentence you receive. On the state level, there is a broader latitude. Although you may already know how important it is to have an attorney after being charged with a felony, you must speak with an experienced one. Assault cases will differ based on a defendant’s record and the relevant details of the incident. Skilled attorneys understand how to study the facts and fight for the correct sentence, assuming you are found guilty. 

Get in Touch with Your Family’s Attorney 

Even a charge of simple assault can dramatically change one’s life. Besides possible jail time, there are plenty of collateral consequences, such as loss of income or reputation. Felonies carry even more severe consequences, both immediate and collateral. Hiring a knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense attorney should be the first thing you do after an arrest for assault or battery. No matter how hopeless your case feels, a good attorney can introduce extenuating or mitigating circumstances during your trial or sentencing so that even a conviction has minimal impact on your life. Contact Select Law Partners, PLLC, to schedule your consultation today

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Bennett Brasfield

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