The Three Kinds of Assault in Virginia
Virginia consistently ranks as one of the safest states in the Union. Law enforcement and judicial authorities are determined to preserve that ranking. What might be a heated argument in Maryland is an assault arrest in Virginia. Then, when these cases go to court, an ordinary assault charge in Maryland is an aggravated assault charge in Virginia.
Since Virginia authorities are determined to “clean up the streets,” defendants need an assertive Leesburg assault & battery lawyer to represent them through the entire process. This process usually begins with jail release and ends with a favorable out-of-court settlement. Common plea bargains include reduced charges and/or reduced sentences. These resolutions give defendants more control over the outcome and reduce, or eliminate, the harsh consequences of an assault conviction.
Assault By Contact
Pushing and shoving usually means an ABC charge in Northern Virginia, particularly if officers see it. Single-witness cases are much easier for prosecutors to win than multiple witness cases, especially if that single witness is basically a professional witness. Most officers testify in hundreds of trials and hearings.
A Leesburg criminal defense lawyer also uses ABC as a bargaining chip during plea negotiations. If the evidence is weak in an ordinary assault case, or if a defense might apply, prosecutors often reduce ordinary assault, which is a misdemeanor, to ABC, which is basically a traffic ticket.
Usually, ABC is a fine-only matter. Therefore, incarceration and probation are not possibilities in these cases. However, in addition to a fine, the judge could impose some additional conditions, like completing an anger management class.
If the alleged victim sustained an injury, however slight, prosecutors normally file ordinary assault charges. These charges are much more serious than ABC, but they also have proof problems.
If the alleged victim only suffered a slight injury, like a red spot, prosecutors are often hard-pressed to establish intent. Sometimes, people really do fall down the stairs.
The facts are harder to establish as well. People might lose their tempers and push and shove in front of police officers, especially if the suspects were drinking. But very few people commit full-on assaults while police officers are watching.
So, the prosecution often hinges on the alleged victim’s testimony. The alleged victim’s recall is questionable, especially since several months usually pass between the arrest and trial date. The alleged victim’s motivation could be an issue as well. Some people call the cops to get other people in trouble.
Long-term and condition-laden probation is a real possibility in an ordinary assault case. Furthermore, if the matter involved domestic violence, a judge usually grants a protective order. That order opens another can of worms.
If the alleged victim was in a protected class, the alleged victim sustained a serious injury, or the defendant used a deadly weapon, prosecutors could file aggravated assault charges.
Public servants, like teachers, firefighters, and police officers, usually get special protection under Virginia law. Usually, this protection applies if the alleged victim was performing official duties. A police officer moonlighting as a security guard or illegally detaining someone isn’t in a protected class.
The “serious injury” component could be an issue as well. If the alleged victim goes to a hospital, gets tired of waiting, and goes home, the medical bills may not support the state’s serious injury claim.
Self-defense is also a defense in all forms of assault. Basically, self-defense is a proportional response to an imminent threat. Sam can’t hit Bill if Bill uses a racial slur and Jason Momoa cannot hit Woody Allen if Woody Allen threatens him.
Count on a Dedicated Loudoun County Lawyer
There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. Virtual, home, and after-hours visits are available.