Injury To Reputation, Trade, Business, Or Profession In Virginia
In addition to commonly known violent crimes, such as assault and battery or robbery, the Virginia Criminal Code also prohibits numerous non-violent crimes. Non-violent crime in Virginia is categorized as intentional injury to another person’s reputation, trade, business, or profession. Although this is a misdemeanor offense, any violation can result in serious criminal and civil consequences.
Injury to Reputation, Trade, Business, or Profession
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-499 provides the rules against injury to reputation, trade, business, or profession. This section prohibits two or more people from agreeing, associating, or combining to:
- Willfully and maliciously injure another person’s reputation, trade, business, or profession;
- Willfully and maliciously compel another person to perform any act against their will; or
- Willfully and maliciously hinder another person from doing or performing any lawful act.
This section also prohibits any person from attempting to procure the participation, cooperation, or agreement to carry out the unlawful acts above. Section 18.2-499 does not prevent the legitimate organization of employees to engage in collective bargaining or negotiation under state or federal law.
Any person who violates Section 18.2-499 in a willful and malicious manner is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The same is true for any person who attempts to combine with others to violate this section, even if the ultimate act is unsuccessful.
Under Virginia law, a conviction for a Class 1 misdemeanor can lead to a maximum of 12 months in jail and criminal fines up to $2,500.
In addition to the criminal penalties described above, Code of Virginia Section 18.2-500 enables civil liability in cases of injury to reputation, trade, business, or profession. In these situations, the victim may file a civil lawsuit to:
- Recover three times the damage sustained through injury to reputation, trade, business, or profession; and
- Obtain an injunction to prevent the perpetrator from committing the same or similar acts at a different juncture.
It is important to note that a loss of profits can qualify as damage or harm for the purposes of Section 18.2-500.
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-501 establishes certain whistleblower protections in cases of injury to reputation, trade, business, or profession. These protections apply to any whistleblower who produces evidence in a legal action for injury to reputation, trade, business, or profession.
In these situations, the whistleblower enjoys general protection against penalty or forfeiture for producing evidence in a legal action. Whistleblowers can, of course, still face legal liability for committing perjury during such a legal action.
Do You Need Legal Help?
For help with your criminal charges, reach out to Simms Showers LLP. Our skilled Leesburg criminal attorneys are prepared to assist you throughout each step of your case.