Assault and battery, though often charged together as associated crimes, are not one and the same. Virginia treats assault and battery as two distinct crimes even though the offenses are penalized under the same statute. If you have been arrested on one or both charges, the first thing you need is an excellent criminal defense team with the experience and skill and a track record of successful outcomes.
If you are in Northern Virginia, the firm to contact is Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, located in Fairfax. We have served the region for decades and have a well-earned reputation for efficiency, empathy, and unsurpassed litigation skills.
Defining Assault in Fairfax County
Assault is defined as an intentional act that creates fear in another person that he or she is in imminent danger of harm through physical contact. Assault differs from a simple threat or verbal abuse in that gestures and/or weapons are used to reinforce the victim’s understanding that force will be used to inflict bodily harm or offensive contact. In other words, an assault is a threat of bodily harm combined with a show of ability to cause that harm.
Defining Battery in Fairfax County
Battery essentially comes down to intentionally making contact with another person in order to cause physical harm or injury. Both intent to do harm or make offensive contact and actually making nonconsensual contact are necessary elements of battery. It should be noted that the victim of battery need not be aware of the physical contact at the time it occurs. You can be charged with battery for nonconsensual touching of a person who is sleeping or unconscious.
Examples of Assault/ Examples of Battery
- Throwing a punch is an assault; giving someone a black eye with that punch is a battery.
- Spitting at someone intentionally is assault; hitting them in the face with spittle is battery.
- Showing someone a weapon while threatening them with bodily harm is assault; using that weapon to hit, poke, stab or throttle them is battery. The basic difference
- between the two is whether the plaintiff’s body boundaries were violated with undesired physical contact.
Aggravated Battery, typically categorized as a felony involves either the use of a deadly weapon to injure another person or the injury of another person under circumstances demonstrating the defendant’s indifference to the value of human life.
Penalties for Assault and/or Battery
The state of Virginia takes the crimes of assault and battery very seriously. If you are found guilty of either or both crimes, not only will your reputation be negatively impacted, but you will face fines and possible incarceration. There is a wide range of penalties for these crimes, depending upon who is targeted and how severely the victim is harmed.
If you are convicted of Simple Assault (a Class 1 Misdemeanor) you face up to 1-year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. At the other extreme, if you are convicted of Aggravated Malicious Wounding (a Class 2 Felony) you may be punished by a prison sentence of 20 years to life.
Charges That Result in More Severe Penalties
Your conviction for assault or assault and battery will also carry harsher penalties if it can be proven that one of the following is true:
- You targeted a family member, especially if you have been charged with domestic violence previously
- You targeted the victim because of race, religious conviction, color or national origin
- You knowingly committed the act against a judge, magistrate, law enforcement officer or correctional officer, firefighter or EMT engaged in their occupational duties
- You knowingly attacked a full-time or part-time employee of any public or private elementary or secondary school engaged in the performance of his/her duties
- You knowingly targeted a healthcare provider engaged in the performance of his/her duties in a hospital, emergency room or urgent care facility
Aggravated Malicious Wounding in Virginia
Virginia law also has a more category of battery known as aggravated malicious wounding. This statute is applied when one person shoots/stabs/cuts or wounds another with the intent to disfigure, disable, or kill, and the victim is severely injured, suffering permanent disfigurement or impairment.
Possible Defenses We May Use to Win Your Assault and/or Battery Case
There are many possible defenses we may use to win you a dismissal or an acquittal. These include an airtight alibi, mistaken identity of the person who committed the crime, the argument that the touching of the victim’s body was consensual or accidental, the lack of malicious intent, or the fact that the contact was accidental (e.g. accidentally poking someone in the eye in a crowded subway). At Surovell Isaacs & Levy, we will listen carefully to your account of the incident, examine witnesses, and, if necessary, call upon medical or other experts to testify on your behalf.
Contact Our Fairfax Assault & Battery Lawyer
Virginia assault and battery charges are complex. Our understanding attorneys are available to explain the intricacies of the law and to clarify your best options. We will fight vigorously for your right to be presumed innocent and defend you with exceptional strength and agility. Wherever possible, we will get your charges dismissed or win your case at trial. We will, however, always be frank with you. When there is insurmountable evidence of your guilt, we will use our sharp negotiating tactics to have your charges lessened. Call us or fill out a contact form on our website. The sooner you get in touch with us, the sooner we can develop a winning strategy.