Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
The penalties associated with an assault and battery charge in Arlington depend on details of the case, and particularly the status of the alleged victim. Assault against a police officer, for example, has a mandatory minimum of six months incarceration and is a felony. Assault against somebody because of discrimination carries a mandatory minimum of 30 days and is a felony.
While Arlington assault penalties are often severe, there are sometimes options for a defendant to avoid incarceration. The opportunities for alternative sentencing are more prevalent in juvenile and domestic relations court as opposed to the General District Court. A skilled Arlington assault lawyer could negotiate with prosecutors or judges to possibly secure a lesser sentence.
As far as alternative sentencing options, there is no first-offender’s program or other alternatives for assault and battery in general district court. In Fairfax County, one cannot have an assault conviction disappear from their record at the end of a specific period.
What someone can do is an accord and satisfaction, in which the alleged victim agrees to drop the charges and affirm that they have been made whole, contingent on something that the perpetrator has done to make amends.
Sometimes, an accord and satisfaction involves paying the money to the alleged victim, such as coverage for their medical bills. The alleged victim then signs a document saying they want the charges dropped according to an accord and satisfaction.
Another option is a peace bond, which is an agreement to keep the peace. If two neighbors are fighting and it led to them pushing each other, for example, they might agree to a peace bond. Under such a bond, each party commits to no further acts of violence for a period of one year. If one person breaks the bond during that year, they may have to immediately pay a fine to the other person or to the court.
Both the accord and satisfaction and peace bond options are only effective for misdemeanor offenses in general district court. For other courts, Arlington assault penalties may include alternative sentencing options.
If someone is in juvenile and domestic relations court for spousal abuse, for example, that individual can participate in a first-offender’s program, which is designated solely for defendants with no previous charges. In Virginia, the program for first-time offenders is two years on probation, during which the individual takes an anger management course. A protective order or some type of guideline usually accompanies this probationary program. At the end of that period, the defendant’s case will be dismissed, pursuant to the statute, if the alleged perpetrator has completed each aspect of the program.
Again, no similar first-offender program exists for General District Court. Outside of juvenile and domestic relations court, a defendant may wish to pursue a mitigating program like anger management courses prior to trial. They should talk to an Arlington assault attorney about using pre-trial behavior as leverage with a prosecutor.