ASSAULT CRIMES IN VIRGINIA
Only 8% of all reported crimes throughout Virginia are violent crimes. This rate has continued to decrease since 2002.
However, when facing a charge for assault, these crime rates are little comfort for a defendant. Operating in a jurisdiction with one of the lowest crime rates in the nation, Virginia courts have time and resources to aggressively pursue charges against defendants.
The outcome of your assault case can have lasting effects on you and your family. That’s why it’s so important to hire an attorney you can trust to aggressively fight for your rights. Naum Estevez, PLLC is passionate about the law, and is ready to handle your assault case.
What is Assault?
Assault is the unlawful touching of one person upon another. It is divided into the following categories:
Misdemeanor Assault and Battery. An assault is considered a misdemeanor offense if there are no weapons used or displayed or if the victim does not suffer obvious bodily injury.
Felony Assault and Battery. An assault becomes a felony if weapons are used or displayed or if the victim suffers obvious bodily harm including broken bones, broken teeth, internal injury, lacerations or loss of consciousness. In Virginia, there are several classes of felony assault including, Felony Assault, Unlawful Wounding, Malicious Wounding, and Aggravated Malicious Wounding.
According to the Crime in Virginia report, in 2011 assaults peaked in July at 772, and 44.1% of all cases involved a perpetrator and victim who knew each other previously but were not related.
The Class of Assault Charges
Simple assault and battery are normally treated as Class 1 Misdemeanors. Simple Assault may be charged as a Class 6 Felony if the victim was selected based on race, religion, color or national origin.
The more serious aggravated assault, Felony Assault and Battery, will normally be charged as a Class 3 in the case of Malicious Wounding or Class 6 Felony in the case of Unlawful Wounding. The class of felony depends on the viciousness of the assault and the injuries sustained by the victim. If there is injury that is not significant, but obvious, it will be prosecuted as a less serious Class 6 Felony. Class 3 cases involve injury that is serious, including broken bones, but not permanent. An assault resulting in permanent significant injury to the victim, including disability or disfigurement, can be prosecuted as a Class 2 Felony, Aggravated Malicious Wounding.
If an assault is targeted at a family or household member, it is classified as a Domestic Assault. The third offense of Domestic Assault or Assault on a Family Member can be classified and prosecuted as a Class 6 felony.
Assault charges can also upgrade to a Class 6 Felony if the victim was a peace officer or the attacker should have known the victim was a peace officer. In Virginia, victims besides police who fall into this upgraded protection include judges, magistrates, corrections officers, firefighters (career and volunteer) and other medical emergency service personnel.
Sentencing and Punishment
Sentencing for assault depends upon the viciousness of the attack and the injuries inflicted on the victim. For instance, an assault in which the victim was barely touched and left uninjured may result in a lighter sentence than an attack rendering a victim a quadriplegic.
For the most common categories of assault charges, here is a description of possible sentences. They are listed from the least serious charge to the most serious:
Class 1 Misdemeanor (Simple Assault and Battery): Up to 12 months in jail and fines up to $2,500.00. Mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail if the victim was targeted based on race, religion, national origin or target.
Class 6 Felony (Aggravating circumstances described above, visible but less serious injuries): Imprisonment from one to five years and fines up to $2,500 or up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2500, either or both.
Class 3 Felony (Victim seriously injured, but not permanently injured): Imprisonment from five to 20 years and fines up to $100,000.
Class 2 Felony (Victim seriously and permanently injured): Imprisonment from 20 years to life and fines up to $100,000.
What to Do if You Are Charged With Assault
Being charged with assault is a very serious matter. If you are arrested for assault, remain silent and compliant with law enforcement. Resisting arrest can only compound your problems by bringing additional charges or creating the appearance that you are not being compliant with the process. However, stay vigilant of your right to remain silent. Sometimes defendants in assault and other criminal cases, even when they are not guilty of the charges against them, exacerbate the circumstances by making statements without an attorney present.
It is important to secure legal representation as soon as possible to protect defendants through the criminal process, open avenues for rehabilitation and keep imprisonment sentences as low as possible. If you, a family member, or a friend were charged with assault of any degree, contact Naum Estevez, PLLC’s assault lawyers for a free case consultation.