Criminal Lawyer Fairfax Virginia

Criminal Lawyer Fairfax Virginia

New Law Dealing with Enhanced Punishments For Assault & Battery – Effective July 1, 2020

Criminal Lawyer Fairfax Virginia

It used to be that all Assault & Battery charges were the same, a Class 1 Misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.  Then sometime in the ’90s, special classes of victims were designated and mandatory punishments were imposed.  While I am now a Criminal Law Lawyer Fairfax Virginia, in the past, I served in the State Legislature and on the committee that wrote the criminal laws.  If I recall correctly, the first was where a defendant picks a victim based upon “… his race, religious conviction, color or national origin…”  Then the penalty was increased to a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail.  (Note: mandatory minimum means that 100% of the jail time must be served and cannot be suspended by the Court.  Then, it was added that if there was bodily injury, the penalty was increased to a Class 6 Felony (the punishment for a Class 6 Felony is in addition to having a Felony on the criminal record, the defendant can receive 0-5 years and up to a $2500 fine).  The next special class of victims was police officers.  An Assault and Battery on a police officer was changed from the Class 1 Misdemeanor to a Class 6 Felony with 6 months in jail as a mandatory minimum.  Then everyone wanted to be in a protected class, so Judges, Magistrates, Firefighters, EMS, and others were added.  Then teachers and other school employees were made special.  People who were convicted of Assault & Battery on a teacher or a school employee get a Class 1 Misdemeanor with 2 days mandatory minimum.  And if a weapon is used it is 6 months mandatory minimum.  Finally, health care workers who are “…engaged in the performance of his duties in a hospital or in an emergency room on the premises of any clinic or other facility rendering emergency medical care” were added.  The punishment was still a Class 1 Misdemeanor, and like teachers, a 2-day mandatory minimum was imposed.

An experienced Criminal Lawyer Fairfax Virginia knows to keep on top of changes in the law.  This year, a big change was made, which will be effective on July 1, 2020.  A new class of special victims was established.  The new bill took the above-mentioned section about selecting a victim based upon race, religion, etc. and added LGBTQ people.  It says that any person convicted of Assault and Battery where the defendant selected the victim based upon gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation will receive a Class 1 Misdemeanor.  But the shocking part is that the bill eliminates the mandatory minimum for all this category of victims.  Here is the bill text.  Remember that italics is new language and strike throughs remove existing language:

§ 18.2-57. Assault and battery; penalty.

A. Any person who commits a simple assault or assault and battery is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, and if the person intentionally selects the person against whom a simple assault is committed because of his race, religious conviction, gender, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, color, or national origin, the penalty upon conviction shall include a term of confinement of at least six months, 30 days of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of confinement.

B. However, if a person intentionally selects the person against whom an assault and battery resulting in bodily injury is committed because of his race, religious conviction, gender, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, color, or national origin, the person is guilty of a Class 6 felony, and the penalty upon conviction shall include a term of confinement of at least six months, 30 days of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of confinement.

In normal situations, a Criminal Lawyer Fairfax Virginia does not need to know why a law is written in a certain way.  Because I used to be in the legislature, I can tell you.  The Democrats have promoted including into “hate crimes” the LGBTQ community.  At the same time, they have always been opposed to mandatory minimum punishments.  In the 2020 Session, the Democrats took the majority of both the House and the Senate.  This gave them the ability to advance their agenda.  To me, this looks like they tried to impose both philosophies into one bill.  They both added LGBTQ people into the hate crimes statute and then eliminated the mandatory minimums.  This does not make much sense to me for Assault and Battery charges with no bodily injury.  By removing the mandatory minimum, the punishment is basically the same as regular Assault and Battery.

As you can tell, this statute is getting more and more complicated every year.  To navigate through all the different classes of people and different punishments is difficult.  For example, was the victim selected based on race, or LGBTQ?  Was the victim a law enforcement officer?  Was the victim a health care worker and was that working on duty at an emergency care facility?  All of these can make a difference on the punishment.  And that is why it would be smart to hire an experienced Criminal Law Lawyer Fairfax Virginia from the office of Dave Albo – Attorney.


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