In Virginia, there are several felony charges that can be brought for what otherwise would be charged as a simple assault and battery. When the injuries to the victim are more serious and the intent was to cause those more serious injuries the Commonwealth will often charge the felonies of unlawful wounding, malicious wounding, or aggravated malicious wounding.
First of all, simple assault is a misdemeanor. So the maximum punishment for felonies of unlawful wounding, malicious wounding, and aggravated malicious wounding charges are much higher, and the collateral consequences on someone’s life are much greater.
As far as how they are factually different, it comes down to the intent of the person charged and the injuries the other person received. For example, in simple assault or assault and battery no injury needs to be shown, it is just a matter of the touching alone that constitutes the offense. But for malicious wounding the prosecutor needs to prove that the defendant shot, stabbed, cut or wounded or caused serious bodily injury to another person and did so with malice and with the intent to kill, permanently maim, disfigure or disable the person.
For unlawful wounding it is the same acts as a malicious wounding, but the Commonwealth doesn’t have to show that the perpetrator did those acts maliciously. So if you stabbed someone and but did so without malice, that wouldn’t be a malicious wounding because you wouldn’t have that element, so it would most likely be charged as an unlawful wounding.
Unlawful and Malicious Woundings are charged in various scenarios depending on the facts of the case. One memorable case I had was a malicious wounding in Arlington where an off-duty police officer had too much to drink and smashed a beer mug over the head over another person in the bar. The victim had some serious injuries to his head.
I’ve seen it charged in stabbings and when someone had beaten another person with a baseball bat. It is a very fact-specific charge and can be brought in numerous instances.
Although I haven’t personally seen it charged this way, there are cases in which it has been charged when fists alone cause the injury.
Typically it’s not one punch, but usually numerous punches and often when the person is already knocked out and laying on the ground. Because it really comes down to the injuries the victim received and the intent of the person accused of the crime.
Stabbings, shootings, repeated punches after the person has already been injured, and using other weapons to cause serious injury are when it the felonious assaults are charged in Arlington.