Assault and Battery Offenses in Virginia
Assault and battery crimes cover a wide range of conduct in Virginia. The status of the alleged victim of assault oftentimes determines the severity of the criminal charge and whether there is mandatory jail time. The consequences of these criminal charges range from deferred findings and misdemeanors to felony convictions with mandatory jail time.
Assault and Battery
Simple assault and battery §18.2-57 is a class 1 misdemeanor offense in Virginia unless it falls into the narrow categories discussed below. Assault and battery covers a wide range of conduct and the offenses are merged generally into one charge in Virginia. Simple assault can refer to putting a victim in fear of being harmed. An illegal touching or injury is not necessary for an assault conviction. Battery, however, requires an illegal touching of another and therefore contact of some kind is required. Typically, defendants will be charged with assault and battery as a class 1 misdemeanor which encompasses both the fear of being harmed or the illegal touching of another. Class 1 misdemeanors can result in jail time and/or fines. The maximum punishment for a class 1 misdemeanor is 12 months in jail and a fine of $2500.
Virginia law §18.2-57 also created special assault and battery offenses with enhanced criminal punishments:
- Assault based on victim’s race, religious conviction, color or national origin:
- Class 1 misdemeanor with mandatory minimum 30-day jail sentence
- Assault with bodily injury based on victim’s race, religious conviction, color or national origin:
- Class 6 felony with mandatory minimum 30-day jail sentence
- Assault and battery of a judge, law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or firefighter
- Class 6 felony with mandatory minimum 6-month sentence
- Battery of teacher, principal, assistant principal, or guidance counselor
- Class 1 misdemeanor with 2-day mandatory minimum jail sentence
- Battery of teacher, principal, assistant principal, or guidance counselor with firearm or weapon on school property
- Class 1 misdemeanor with 6-month mandatory minimum jail sentence
Domestic Assault and Battery
Domestic assault and battery under §18.2-57.2 is treated differently than simple assault cases in Virginia. First, domestic assault and battery cases fall under the jurisdiction of Domestic Relations court because they involve a family or household member. Second, these charges are class 1 misdemeanors unless the defendant has two or more prior crimes of domestic violence including but not limited to misdemeanor domestic assault and felony malicious wounding or related offenses. If the defendant has two or more prior convictions that meet the statute’s criteria, the domestic assault and battery charge can be elevated to a class 6 felony which is punishable by a maximum penitentiary sentence of 5 years.
First offense domestic violence charges are eligible for deferred findings. A deferred finding can allow a defendant to avoid a criminal conviction of their domestic violence charge. Deferred findings typically last 24 months and require the defendant to plead no contest to the allegations and complete some type of domestic violence and/or drug treatment program. If a defendant is found in violation of their deferred finding during the probationary period, the court will likely enter a guilty finding for the original charge.
How can a Virginia defense attorney help you?
A Virginia defense attorney who specializes in assault and battery cases can help you prepare for trial, obtain discovery evidence, and understand your options in any misdemeanor or felony case. Every case has its own unique set of facts and witnesses. With an experienced attorney in Northern Virginia, you can best prepare for trial and understand the what needs to be done to win your case.
Everyone charged with assault and battery or domestic assault and battery has the right to trial and to appeal the outcome of their case to the higher court. You also have the right to request that a jury of your peers decides whether you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of your offense. Having an attorney who specializes in the Northern Virginia jurisdictions of Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington, and Alexandria is crucial to understanding what you are up against in an assault and battery case.
At Simms Showers LLP, our experienced defense attorneys Caleb A. Kershner and William B. Mann have achieved great results in numerous jury trials throughout Northern Virginia and are available to speak with you and answer your specific questions. Please feel free to contact us at (703) 771-4671.