The following was taken from an interview with an Arlington assault lawyer. For more specific details concerning your case schedule a free consultation today.
In Arlington and in the rest of Virginia, a simple assault is an overt act intended to do bodily harm to another together with a present ability to cause such harm or it is an act intended to place a person in fear or apprehension of bodily harm that creates in that person a reasonable fear or apprehension of harm.
An assault is different from assault and battery in Virginia but they are charged the same way and they are prosecuted in a similar fashion. The punishment for each is the same. An assault is essentially a threat with the ability to carry out that threat imminently, which puts a victim in a reasonable fear of harm.
Words alone are not an assault, but if there are words and there is some attempt or effort made to cause someone else harms or fear combined with the ability to do it, then you can be charged and convicted of assault.
For example, If someone is very close to another person and says to them “I’m going to hit you in the face”, and intends to either actually hit them or at least intends to scare them, and the other person believes that they actually might get hit… that is an assault.
An assault can also occur when somebody throws something at someone with the intention of placing them in fear even if the item doesn’t actually make contact with the other person.
The victim must fear that the harm is imminent. It means that it must be coming right now, not sometime later. So a vague threat to hurt someone someday in the future would probably not be an assault.
Separate from that charge, but closely related, is the crime of assault and battery which is the unlawful touching of another, done in a rude, angry, insulting or vengeful manner.
If someone actually touches someone else, whether by punching, kicking, spitting, using a weapon or throwing something at someone, and did so because they were angry, or wanted to be rude or insulting, and there is no legal excuse or justification (like self-defense), it is assault and battery.
However, an accidental touching would not be assault and battery. If you accidentally or involuntarily bump into someone else –that’s not an assault and battery, because the Commonwealth must prove the intent in order to convict someone of this offense.
Probation is almost a certainty upon conviction. The only issue will be whether it is supervised or unsupervised. Most convictions for misdemeanors in Virginia will result in unsupervised probation, meaning that you have to be of general good behavior and complete all of the court’s requirements (like community service or anger management).
A suspended jail sentence will usually be in place so if you violate the court’s orders they can impose some or all of that suspended sentence. In some cases, although more rare, the sentence will include a period of supervised probation, meaning that a probation officer will be assigned. The probation officer will monitor the defendant’s behavior while on probation and can move to revoke a suspended sentence if they are unhappy with the probationer’s performance.