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Malicious Wounding


In November of 2016, a 35-year-old McLean, Virginia man was arrested for attacking and biting the face of a 31-year-old man, as reported by the Washington Post. The defendant faces charges of malicious wounding after confronting and attacking the other man in a parking lot. The victim’s face was significantly wounded, according to police. In addition, the defendant is now facing a hate crime charge. He was heard using anti-Muslim slurs, and  penalties he can expect to face will likely be escalated because the crime was committed as a result of prejudice against a person of a protected class. But what is the difference between malicious wounding and non-malicious bodily injury, and what are the penalties for each?

Malicious Wounding versus Non Malicious Injury (Unlawful Wounding)

The seemingly small variation between a malicious attack and a non-malicious attack of unlawful wounding is of great importance, because the former is a Class 3 felony, while the latter is a Class 6 felony. As per Virginia § 18.2-51, a person who maliciously shoots, stabs, cuts, or wounds another and causes bodily injury, with the intent of maiming, disfiguring, disabling, or killing that person, is guilty of a Class 3 felony, punishable by five to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. However, if the unlawful attack is not malicious, the offender shall be charged with unlawful wounding, which is a Class 6 felony, punishable by one to five years in prison or up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500. Unlawful wounding is therefore a much less serious crime. The difference between the two crimes is subtle, yet great, and lies within the definition of the word “malicious.” Malice can be thought of as an unjust or evil act without cause or excuse. For example, malicious wounding, such as biting another person’s face out of hatred, is intended to injure, kill, or maim, with the added factor of malice. While a person who causes unlawful wounding still intends to cause injury, death, or maiming to their victim, the addition of malice is not present in their act.

Malicious Wounding to Law Enforcement and a Possibility of an Additional 10 Years in Prison

Law enforcement agents and first responders are a protected class when it comes to crimes of violence. As per Virginia § 18.2-51.1, a person who maliciously injures with intent to disfigure, disable, maim, or kill a law enforcement agent, firefighter, rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel faces between five and 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Malicious wounding to a law enforcement agent or first responders is a Class 6 felony with a mandatory minimum of one year in prison.

Call a Loudoun County, Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Prince William Attorney Today

Whether you have been charged with unlawful wounding or malicious wounding, the attorneys of Simms Showers, LLP can help you clear your name and have those charges reduced or dropped. Call us at 703-997-7821 today for assistance.



Disclaimer: This legal alert is provided for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice particular to your situation. No recipients of this memo should act or refrain from acting solely on the basis of this memorandum without seeking professional legal counsel. Simms Showers LLP expressly disclaims all liability relating to actions taken or not taken based solely on the content of this memorandum. Please contact Caleb Kershner or Ben Mann at cak@simmsshowerslaw.com, wbm@simmsshowerslaw.com, or (703) 771-4671 for greater details concerning how this information may affect you.

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