Aggravating Factors for Assault and Battery Penalties in Virginia
Assault and battery are criminal charges in Virginia. Generally, these crimes are charged as misdemeanors; however, there are some factors that may lead to the crimes being charged as felonies.
Assault and Battery
To understand the circumstances that make assault and battery felonies, it is important to first understand the charges themselves. Assault is physically threatening to hurt someone and performing some act that makes the person believe you are going to hurt them or actually having the ability to hurt them (for example, if someone starts to run at another person with their fists raised). Assault requires that there actually be a believable threat or ability to carry out the threat.
Battery is actual offensive touching or harmful physical contact. Intent is an important part of both crimes. Generally, assault and battery are Class 1 misdemeanors and punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
Felony Assault and Battery
In some cases, assault and battery can be charged as felonies and therefore come with harsher sentences if convicted. Those aggravating factors include:
- Hate Crimes – If the bodily injury was caused because of the victim’s race, religion, color, or national origin, the battery may be charged as a hate crime. Being convicted of a hate crime is a Class 6 felony and comes with a penalty of at least six months in jail with the defendant serving a minimum of 30 days in jail.
- Protected Employees – There are some kinds of employees that because of their jobs are considered protected employees Assault and battery against these categories of employees is a Class 6 felony. To be charged as a felony under this section the defendant must know or have reason to know that the victim is employed in a protected category. Protected jobs include judges, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement officers, correctional officers and employees, and firefighters, including volunteer firefighters. The penalty for conviction of a felony under this section is a minimum jail sentence of six months.
- Domestic Violence – Domestic violence includes battery against a household or family member, including spouses, former spouses, parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, in-laws who live in the same house, people who have children together, and people who live together or have lived together in the past year. This may be charged as a felony if this is would not be the defendant’s first conviction of this, or a similar, offense. Felony domestic violence is a Class 6 felony.
- Battery by a Prisoner – If a prisoner is found guilty of battering a corrections officer, probation or parole officer, or anyone else visiting the prison, they are guilty of a Class 5 misdemeanor. A Class 5 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.
Leesburg Assault and Battery Attorneys
If you have been charged with assault or assault and battery, it is of the utmost importance that you contact a knowledgeable assault and battery attorney as soon as possible. Whether you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, the legal and personal consequences of an assault and battery conviction can be huge, though a skilled defense attorney can help to fight for your innocence or a reduced sentence. Our experienced assault and battery attorneys at Simms Showers in Leesburg, Virginia can help defend you from these charges.