Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
While some genuine cases of assault and battery definitely exist, there are other cases in which assault and battery charges are simply a mistake, a split second of bad judgment, or the result of false accusations. The penalties and other consequences of an assault and battery conviction can be severe and may include mandatory minimum sentences of incarceration.
While there are a variety of defenses that a criminal defense lawyer could apply in assault and battery cases, consulting a Culpeper County assault lawyer can be the first step to determining whether any of these defenses are applicable in your case.
Many individuals use the terms “assault” and “battery” interchangeably, but in fact, they refer to completely separate crimes. However, they often are grouped together from a legal perspective since a battery almost always involves an assault, as well.
Battery is any purposeful contact with other individuals that is harmful or offensive. Assault, however, is a purposeful act that causes others to anticipate impending harmful or offensive contact. The main difference is that battery must involve actual contact with others, whereas assault may simply involve a threat of contact with others.
Pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-57, either a simple assault or assault and battery constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor. This criminal offense can result in up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
If individuals commit an assault/battery against others based on their race, religion, color, or national origin, it is still a Class 1 misdemeanor with all of the same penalties, except that there is a minimum six-month jail sentence. Additionally, if an individual who is the victim of such a battery sustains physical injury as a result, the offense is elevated to a Class 6 felony, which can result in a prison sentence of up to five years.
Assault/battery against law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency services personnel, corrections officers, and other public officials who are acting in the course of their official duties is also a Class 6 felony. There is a minimum six-month sentence of incarceration for this offense, with a total sentence of incarceration of up to five years.
Individuals who commit assault and battery against school officials, teachers, and other school employees face a Class 1 misdemeanor, except there is a minimum jail sentence of 15 days.
Assault and battery against doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who are on the job also is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a minimum jail sentence of 15 days.
Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-57.2 defines the crime of domestic assault/battery, which occurs against a family or household member. Individuals qualify as family or household members under Va. Code Ann. § 16.1-228 if they are:
A domestic assault/battery charge normally is a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, if individuals have two previous convictions within the past 20 years for assault and battery against a family or household member or any other similar offense under the laws of Virginia or another state, the charge becomes a Class 6 felony.
For this type of charge, there also is a mandatory emergency protective order issued that prohibits contacts between the parties for three days.
Assault and battery charges in the Commonwealth of Virginia are a common criminal offense that can have fairly serious penalties, especially when they involve certain classes of victims. The fact is that many of these charges are based on incorrect information, half-truths, and situations that simply have been blown out of proportion.
An experienced Culpeper County assault lawyer may be able to assist you in investigating the truthfulness of all allegations against you and exploring all potential defenses to your charges.