Assault & Battery Defense Attorney in Richmond, VA
Diligently Defending the Accused for Over 20 Years
If you are facing assault and battery charges in Virginia, it’s essential to secure the help of a trusted battery defense attorney to avoid reaping harsh, life-altering consequences in court. Regardless of aggravating circumstances, being convicted of assault and battery can result in serious penalties.
In some cases, the charge can be heightened to a felony. This means that the defendant may not only face significant prison time, but can encounter lifelong restrictions as a result of their criminal record. A felony conviction can drastically impact a person’s ability to find and retain work, secure safe and affordable housing, and maintain relationships with friends, family, and dating partners.
Our skilled Richmond criminal defense lawyer can mean the difference between a couple of months in jail and lifelong repercussions, including the potential loss of civil liberties like voting rights and firearm ownership. Our firm has over 20 years of experience successfully representing the accused in Richmond and the surrounding areas.
If you’re facing criminal charges, don’t throw away your future. Take action now to secure the aggressive defense you deserve. Call (804) 265-4441 or contact us online to discuss your case with an experienced defense attorney.
What Constitutes Assault & Battery Charges?
Virginia Code § 18.2-57 classifies basic assault and battery as a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, charges can be heightened if aggravating circumstances are present. In some instances, battery charges can result in a felony conviction that will have lifelong repercussions in the defendant’s life.
Assault vs. Battery: What’s the Difference?
Assault and battery are not the same in Virginia. According to state law, these criminal charges are classified as separate crimes with varying penalties.
Simple assault refers to an assault charge without battery. While this charge is typically a misdemeanor, assault and battery can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction depending on the circumstances.
What Warrants an Assault Charge?
Generally, there are 2 ways a person may be charged with assault in Virginia:
- Present ability to inflict harm. A person can be charged with assault if they perform a physical act intended to inflict bodily harm. While a verbal threat may not constitute an assault charge, approaching a victim with both the intent and ability to harm them can warrant an assault conviction.
- Fear of harm. A person can be charged with assault if they perform an overt act with the intent of making a victim fear bodily harm. For example, if the defendant approached another person while appearing to search for a weapon on their person, the defendant can be charged with assault regardless of whether or not a firearm was truly present, meaning that the mere act of invoking reasonable fear in another person is grounds for an assault conviction.
What warrants an assault and battery charge?
While assault is defined as a threat with intent or means to carry out a battery, the difference between simple assault (assault without battery) and assault and battery is actual physical contact.
According to Virginia law, battery is defined as “the touching of another, willfully or in anger.” This can include contact intended to be rude or insult another person. Essentially, battery is any offense or harmful contact.
Is bodily injury required to be charged with battery?
No. It’s important to understand that you can be charged with battery regardless of the severity of injuries sustained by the victim—and regardless of whether the victim sustained injuries at all. For example, an unwanted kiss or spitting in the victim’s face may not the person to the hospital, but can still warrant a battery conviction.
Can you be charged with battery if the physical contact was accidental?
No. Technically, assuming the contact wasn’t done recklessly, accidental touching isn’t enough to warrant a battery charge.
Assault & Battery Penalties in Virginia
Assault and battery are serious charges in the state of Virginia. A conviction for basic assault and battery is punishable by:
- Up to 12 months in prison
- Up to $2,500 in fines
Felonious Assault & Battery: When Are Penalties Heightened?
In some cases, the presence of aggravating circumstances and other conditions can enhance assault and battery charges to a felony, including:
Assault & Battery as a Hate Crime
Under Virginia’s assault and battery law, committing a simple assault or assault and battery against a person on the basis of certain protected classes can result in the defendant being convicted of a hate crime.
Assault and/or battery that constitutes a hate crime carries a mandatory confinement period of 6 months. This includes committing an assault and battery offense against another person based on:
- Religious affiliation
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- National origin
If the other person suffers bodily injury as a result of the offense, the charge may be heightened to a Class 6 felony punishable by:
- Up to 5 years in prison (with a mandatory 1-year sentence)
- Up to $2,500 in fines
Assault & Battery as Domestic Violence
If an assault and battery offense is committed against a family or household member, the charge may be enhanced to a domestic violenceoffense. Under Virginia Code § 16.1-288, a “household member” may include:
- A current or former spouse
- A current or former domestic partner (regardless of marital status)
- A child, stepchild, or foster child
- A sibling, half-sibling, or stepsibling
- A parent or stepparent
- A grandparent
- A current or former roommate with whom the defendant has lived for a minimum of 12 months
A first domestic violence offense of assault and battery against a household member may result in a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, if the defendant has prior domestic violence offenses in the last 20 years, penalties can be heightened to Class 6 felony charges.
Assault & Battery with Unlawful Wounding
An assault and battery offense that involves unlawful wounding can also be enhanced from a misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony punishable by:
- Up to 5 years in prison (with a mandatory 1-year sentence)
- Up to $2,500 in fines
Unlawful wounding is defined as the “shooting, stabbing, cutting, or otherwise injuring a person with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill.” For an offense to qualify as unlawful wounding, the battery must result in:
- The victim’s skin being broken, and/or
- A gun or firearm being used.
Assault & Battery with Malicious Wounding
According to Virginia Code § 18.2-51, battery that results in malicious wounding is a Class 3 felony.
While this offense is similar to unlawful wounding, the key distinction is that malicious wounding entails a criminal act committed with malice. This felony is punishable by:
- 5-20 years in prison
- Up to $100,000 in fines
Assault & Battery Against Protected Employees
Committing battery against certain protected employees can result in felony charges. Under § 18.2-57(C), battery charges can be enhanced when the offense is committed against state and local officials, including (but not limited to):
- Correctional officers
- Law enforcement officers
- City and volunteer firefighters
- Emergency medical services personnel
- Department of Corrections employees
- Department of Juvenile Justice employees
- Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services employees
Committing battery against one of the protected employees above can result in a Class 6 felony punishable by:
- Up to 5 years in prison (with a mandatory minimum of 6 months)
Virginia Code § 18.2-57(D) upholds that battery charges can also be heightened to a felony when committed against full- or part-time employees of public or private school districts, including:
- Assistant principals
- Guidance counselors
Regardless of whether bodily injury is involved, such offenses are considered Class 1 misdemeanors punishable by:
- Up to 15 days in jail (with a mandatory minimum of 2 days)
Note that if the defendant commits battery against a protected employee on school property using a weapon or firearm, the charges can be heightened to include a minimum prison sentence of 6 months (Virginia Code § 18.2-308.1).
Virginia Code § 18.2-57(E) also protects healthcare workers against assault and battery. A defendant who commits battery against a healthcare provider, physician, nurse, or other protected medical professional can face a minimum confinement period of 15 days up to 1 year.
Common Legal Defenses Against Assault & Battery Charges
Whether you’re facing a felony or misdemeanor conviction, assault and battery are serious criminal charges that can result in lifelong consequences, including financial obstacles, confinement, and trouble finding and keeping a job.
While facing criminal charges can be daunting and scary, hope is not lost. Seeking the legal counsel of a trusted criminal defense attorney can give you the fighting chance you need to obtain a favorable outcome in court. Your lawyer can collaborate with you to build the strongest defense possible, collect the appropriate evidence, and determine the best legal strategy to pursue on your behalf.
There are various legal strategies that a battery defense attorney may choose to employ in your defense, including (but not limited to):
- You acted in self-defense.
- You acted to defend another.
- You acted to defend your property.
- You have a credible alibi to prove a wrongful accusation.
- The victim consented to the act before it occurred.
Again, it’s imperative to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer before selecting or employing one of the strategies listed above, as their legal expertise and analytical skills can help determine the best path to take in your defense.
Turn to a Law Firm Backed by 20 Years of Experience
Our team at Janus & Stone, P.C. is committed to pursuing justice on behalf of the accused in Richmond. When it comes to defending your hard-earned reputation, turn to a trusted firm backed by 20 years of dependable experience. Criminal law is a complex area of our legal system. If you’re facing criminal charges, a reliable legal defense is nonnegotiable if you wish to obtain a favorable result in court.
Our firm is proud to have a proven track record of success when it comes to representing our clients in Richmond and the surrounding areas. If you’ve been charged with a crime, time is of the essence. Take swift action to protect your rights. Turn to Janus & Stone, P.C. to protect your name and restore your freedoms today.
Facing assault and battery charges in Richmond? Take action now to defend your hard-earned reputation and good name. Call Janus & Stone, P.C. at (804) 265-4441 today to request a free consultation.
“Mr. Stone went to work on my behalf and came out with a positive result that allowed me to continue working in my career.”- Emcnell
“He will give his all to help you be able to win your case. Hands down the best out there.”- Michael
“Mr. Taylor Stone is an incredible lawyer. He took great care of me at every step and always made sure I was completely informed.”- Ryan