An Assault Lawyer Fairfax, Va Explains Virginia Criminal Law
Assault and Assault & Battery
I’m an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va. In Virginia, both assault and battery are contained in one code section. However, an assault and a battery are two different things. An “Assault” is an overt act intended to do bodily harm to another together with the present ability to cause such harm. It is also an overt act intended to place a person in fear or apprehension of bodily harm that creates in him a reasonable fear or apprehension of harm. Note that it does not require actual contact. A “Battery” is the willful touching/contact of another, without legal excuse or justification, done in an angry, rude, insulting, or vengeful manner. As noted above, for purposes of Virginia criminal law, assault and battery are essentially interchangeable and charged as the same crime—so an assault lawyer Fairfax, Virginia will defend charges of assault or battery in the same manner.
Note: Our lawyers practice in Fairfax, and all other counties of Virginia. We have offices in Fairfax, Arlington, and Staunton. We reference Fairfax, Va. in this article because it is the largest jurisdiction in Virginia with the most rigid procedures. Work done to Fairfax standards meets or exceeds the standards in every other jurisdiction in the Commonwealth, so it is common to use it as a benchmark.
At a minimum, assault is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.00. However, the degree of violence associated with an assault will determine the specific charges and an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va will need to carefully consider the allegations in preparing the appropriate defense. In fact, the more violent the assault, the worse the potential punishment. At some point, an assault can become “murder,” punishable by death or “malicious wounding” punishable by up to 20 years in prison or 5 years in prison, depending upon the severity. An experienced assault lawyer Fairfax, Va will be able to understand the nature of such criminal charges and prepare the best possible defense for the client.
More specifically, there are several forms of assault that an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va will be required to defend – ranging from serious felonies to misdemeanors.
For example, assault under Virginia Code § 18.2-57 is often referred to as “simple assault.” In addition, there is a special class of cases involving when an assault is committed against family or household members under Virginia Code § 18.2-57, which could affect one’s civil rights in ways much different than simple assault. There could also be special punishments that apply if the alleged victim is a law enforcement officer, healthcare provider, or teacher. And there are “hate crimes” where extra jail is given if the victim is selected because of his race or religion.
Each distinct fact impacts the defense strategy and steps that an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va must take to defend the specific case.
In addition to simple assault, other examples of felony assault type cases that an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va may be called upon to defend include:
- Malicious or Unlawful Wounding: Malicious wounding is when someone is accused of shooting, stabbing, cutting or wounding another with the intent to maim, disable or kill him or her. The maximum penalty is up to 20 years in prison. Unlawful wounding is when someone is accused of wounding someone, but without intending that he or she be maimed, disabled or killed. The maximum penalty is up to 5 years in prison.
- Aggravated Malicious Wounding: Aggravated malicious wounding can be charged when the damages from the malicious wounding are such that the victim is permanently and significantly impaired physically. The maximum penalty is up to life in prison.
- Strangulation: Strangulation is an assault that involves knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully impeding the blood circulation or respiration of another. The maximum penalty is up to 5 years in prison.
A skilled assault lawyer Fairfax, Va will employ several defenses to try to win these kinds of cases. Or, if it makes sense given the specific facts and circumstances, an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va may also attempt to negotiate to reduce a felony down to a misdemeanor of simple assault. Since the range of punishments for felony assault type cases can include many years in prison (even life), sometimes this can be the best possible result for the client.
Defending assault crimes requires an experienced assault lawyer Fairfax, Va. Having a top assault lawyer Fairfax, Va is key to ensuring your rights are protected.
Can Someone Be Convicted of Assault if Actions Were in Self-Defense?
It is generally illegal to cause physical harm to another. But making contact with another in a way that causes that person physical harm is not always illegal if the offender’s actions are taken in self-defense or defense of others. With that said, arguing that an assault was committed due to self-defense is usually a nuanced process. As a result, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced Fairfax, Virginia assault lawyer if you have been charged with assault. It may not be enough to simply say, “my actions were in self-defense.” A Fairfax, VA assault lawyer can help you to construct the strongest self-defense strategy possible once we learn about the specific details surrounding your altercation.
Illegal Assault or Self-Defense?
When you argue that an assault occurred as a result of self-defense, you are fundamentally confirming that the assault took place. If you want to argue that no such assault took place or that you were not the perpetrator, you will need to use other defensive tools in response to the offense you have been charged with. Arguing self-defense essentially means that you wish to communicate to the court that the assault took place but was not an illegal assault because it was conducted as a matter of self-defense.
It is important to understand that in order to be considered legal, a self-defensive assault must generally be considered proportional. Various states treat self-defense in different ways, but in nearly all cases, self-defensive actions must be proportional. What does that mean practically? Essentially, individuals are usually allowed to exert the same amount of force as is being immediately threatened against you. If you are a middle-weight man in his twenties who is being threatened by another middle-weight man in his twenties attempting to throw a punch, you can also throw a punch. But if you are a middle-weight man in your twenties being confronted by a six-year-old attempting to throw a punch, you cannot punch the kid “in self-defense” because your force is disproportional to the attack you are facing. Assaults in self-defense must generally be proportional in order to be considered legal.
Criminal Defense Guidance Is Available
If you have recently been charged with assault or have questions about the criminal justice system, please do not hesitate to contact a Fairfax, VA assault lawyer today. If you have been arrested, it is important to make contact with an attorney as soon as you possibly can. Every word you say and action you take in the wake of an arrest can impact the defense of your case. Consulting with a Fairfax, VA assault lawyer as soon as possible after arrest may help to preserve certain defensive strategies. Your defense strategy may include self-defense, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case.
Our firm prides itself on constructing strong legal defense strategies for our clients. And if you have been arrested due to an assault that occurred in self-defense, know that we will work hard on your behalf. Please do not hesitate. Contact Dave Albo – Attorney today.