The following is taken from an interview with an Arlington assault lawyer as he discusses what needs to be proven to convict someone of simple assault in Virginia. To learn more about an assault or to discuss your case schedule a free consultation today.
They are prosecuted vigorously. In these cases, you often have a victim who very angry at what happened to them. They are looking to the prosecutor hold the defendant accountable for what he or she did. They want to have their day in court and they often want lengthy jail sentences.
They usually want as much punishment as the law will allow and because of that, the prosecutor must take it seriously. This is a not a “victimless crime” where the prosecutor has no one to answer to directly. The victim’s concerns will be passed onto the prosecutor and for that reason, the prosecutor will take it seriously.
The prosecutor also takes it seriously and vigorously prosecutes because they have to be responsive to the community. The community elects the head prosecutor, who then hires the prosecutors underneath the head prosecutor. So when someone from the community is assaulted and who feels wronged and they have the power to reelect the prosecutor, that pressure is transferred to the prosecutor. Now the prosecutors still have an obligation to do the right thing in the case, even if the victim is being unreasonable, but that pressure exists nonetheless.
The prosecutor also has an interest in seeking peace and calm and order to the community in which he represents or she represents. And some of that is not having fights breakout. A vigorous prosecution of one defendant can help deter future outbreaks.
Prosecuting vigorously and harshly punishing someone who gets into a fight or assaults someone lets the community know that this is not acceptable behavior, makes the victim feel that justice was served, and allows the prosecutor to feel that he or she is providing a service to their constituency. These cases are taken very seriously in Arlington and throughout the state.
To prove an assault case the prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt several things. First, they need to show that the defendant committed an “overt act” which is a pretty vague word that covers almost all action. The Commonwealth must also prove that the act was intended to place the person in fear of bodily harm and that the perpetrator actually had the ability to create that harm immediately. So if someone swings a fist at someone from thirty feet away, the Commonwealth most likely won’t be able to prove that charge. And lastly, the Commonwealth must prove that the other person was actually placed in reasonable fear of that harm. So there are several elements they must prove.
To prove an assault and battery, the Commonwealth would have to prove that the perpetrator willfully touched another person, that they did not have legal excuse or justification to touch that person, and that the touching was done in an angry, rude, insulting or vengeful manner. Each of those elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If the Commonwealth fails to prove any of those elements beyond a reasonable doubt the person will be acquitted.