Aggravated assault is a serious offense in Virginia. Prosecutors can elevate an assault charge to aggravated assault when certain factors are present, including the use of weapons. The penalties for this crime include serious jail time, fines, and a permanent mark on the defendant’s criminal record.
The Benefits of Working with an Aggravated Assault Defense Attorney
If you’re facing an aggravated assault charge, don’t leave your future freedom in the hands of a public defender, or try to represent yourself. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney will give you the best possible chance of obtaining a favorable result. Contact Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our aggravated assault attorneys. We will do everything in our power to work to help you avoid jail time and minimize the impact of the criminal charge on the rest of your life.
Simple Assault Charges
When a perpetrator causes physical harm to a victim, prosecutors can bring basic assault charges in Virginia. In addition to physically harming a victim, a perpetrator can generate an assault charge by merely threatening to cause the victim bodily harm. The prosecution must prove that the victim had reason to fear for their safety legitimately. A person could be charged with assault if the attacker didn’t intend to follow through on their threat of violence. Simple assaults are charged as misdemeanors and carry a penalty of less than a year in jail.
Prosecutors Can Elevate an Assault Charge to Aggravated Assault
When specific conditions have been met, prosecutors can elevate the charges to aggravated assault, which is almost always a felony-level charge. Virginia does not have a specific statute dedicated to aggravated assault. However, it does have a malicious wounding statute and a statute for strangulation. These are serious felony-level charges that carry significant jail time.
Although domestic assault is technically a simple assault or a misdemeanor assault, the charge can be elevated to a Class 6 felony. Prosecutors will bring more serious charges when the defendant is charged with a third or subsequent domestic assault.
Aggravated Assault Based on the Victim’s Status
Some simple assault charges can be elevated based on the victim’s status. In Virginia, a defendant can face aggravated assault charges if the victim is a police officer or another public servant, such as a firefighter, emergency medical personnel, or teacher. However, prosecutors can’t bring charges based on the victim’s identity unless the victim was executing their duty during the assault. Prosecutors must prove that the alleged perpetrator knew the victim’s status as a police officer or other public officer. Additionally, assault on members of certain classes can constitute hate crimes. Under Virginia law, a hate crime includes an assault based on the victim’s disability, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, or religion.
There Is No Serious Bodily Injury Element for Aggravated Assault
Unlike in some other states, there is no serious bodily injury element for aggravated assault. For example, suppose a defendant slaps a police officer or spits on the officer’s uniform. This action would still be considered an assault in Virginia because the victim is a police officer. Many people aren’t aware that they can be charged if they didn’t intend to hurt someone physically. Still, in Virginia, prosecutors have wide discretion to bring aggravated assault charges.
Aggravated Assault Involving Deadly Weapons
Using a deadly weapon to assault someone constitutes aggravated assault in Virginia. The defendant can face charges whether or not the weapon caused the victim a physical injury. When the prosecution can prove that the defendant behaved in a way intended to put the victim in reasonable fear of their safety, the requirements for an assault charge have been met. When a perpetrator threatens a victim with a deadly weapon, they commit an aggravated assault because the victim fears a more serious injury that could result in serious injury or death.
What Constitutes a Deadly Weapon?
A deadly weapon is any weapon that could cause severe injury or death, including a gun. Ordinary objects can be considered deadly weapons depending on how the perpetrator uses them in the assault. For example, a pocket knife is not usually considered a deadly weapon. Still, it could be considered a deadly weapon if the perpetrator threateningly holds the knife to the victim’s neck.
The Degree of the Victim’s Injury?
When a victim of assault suffers serious injuries, prosecutors can raise the charges to aggravated assault. Causing severe physical injury will usually automatically qualify as an aggravated assault. Injuries that maimed, disfigured, or caused the victim’s death are considered serious injuries.
The Penalties for Aggravated Assault
There is a range of penalties for aggravated assault in Virginia. For example, if a defendant is facing a third domestic assault charge, the prosecutor will bring a Class 6 felony charge which carries up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Defendants facing a charge of assault on a law enforcement officer also face a Class 6 felony, but they will face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of six months. When a person has been convicted of a felony, they will lose their right to vote and possess a firearm.
Finding employment can also be difficult due to the stigma that will follow them. Whatever specific assault charge you’re facing, your freedom is in jeopardy. Felony-level charges can affect your life negatively for years, and the sooner you reach out to an attorney, the better.
Discuss Your Case with an Aggravated Assaults Attorney in Virginia
If you’re facing an aggravated assault charge in Virginia, the attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC are here to help. We will carefully investigate the facts in your case and develop an effective legal strategy for your defense. Our attorneys are experienced negotiators who will work to negotiate the dismissal of the charges against you or a favorable plea deal. We also have experience litigating cases in Virginia criminal courts. Reach out to our skilled aggravated assault attorneys today to schedule a free initial consultation.