Many people assume that assault and battery are a single crime, but they are actually two separate offenses. A person can be accused of committing assault, battery, or both in a single instance. Whether charged with only one offense or both together, the penalties for conviction of assault and battery crimes can be severe. 

If you or someone you know has been accused of committing these offenses in either Northern Virginia or Fredericksburg, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side protecting your rights or those of someone you care about. Contact Select Law Partners, PLLC today to speak with one of our defense lawyers now.

How Does Virginia Define Assault and Battery?

In Virginia, assault is defined as performing an overt act intended to cause physical harm while having the present ability to inflict harm, or performing an overt act intended to place the victim in fear of bodily harm and actually placing the victim in reasonable fear of harm. A person can be charged with assault even if they do not touch another person, so long as the other person reasonably believed that they were in danger of being harmed. Battery is defined as the actual touching of another person in a rude, angry, or insulting manner. Injury is not required to prove a battery, only a touching in one of those manners.

A common illustration of assault and battery involves two people arguing. If one person raises their hand as if to strike the other, and that places the other person in reasonable fear for their safety, it is assault. If that person then completes the action by actually striking the other, that is a battery. The full action then constitutes an assault and battery charge.

Elevated Punishments for Certain Types of Assault Crimes

Assault and batteries can be charged as either misdemeanor or felony offenses, depending on the circumstances of the case. Basic assault and battery crimes are misdemeanor offenses. However, if the act is alleged to be based on the alleged victims’ race, religion, color, national origin, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation, a mandatory minimum of six months can be imposed. If the act results in bodily injury, the charge can be elevated to a felony offense and a mandatory minimum of six months is imposed. Assault and battery can also be elevated to felony offenses if the victim is a “protected employee” and the accused knows that they are a protected employee. Protected employees include those in the following professions:

  • Judges
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Correctional officers
  • Firefighters, and
  • Emergency personnel

Under Virginia law, assault, battery, and the terms that elevate punishment have specific definitions and so it is critical to have an experienced defense attorney represent you in any type of assault and battery case. 

Penalties for an Assault Conviction

The penalties for misdemeanor assault and battery can include fines and a jail term of up to one year. The punishments get much more severe if the offense is elevated to a felony, and can include fines of up to $2,500 and up to five years in prison along with a permanent felony record that will follow you for the rest of your life. Certain offenses, like hate crimes, have mandatory minimum sentences, which mandate that a person convicted serve a period of incarceration even if it is a first offense.

Resourceful Assault and Battery Defense Attorney in Virginia

Accusations of committing assault and battery should always be taken seriously, as the penalties for conviction of these offenses can follow you for the rest of your life. To learn more about your legal options, call the office or contact us at Select Law Partners, PLLC to speak with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys today.