Assault and Battery charges can be easy chages to catch. All it takes is a harmful or offensive touching, no matter how minor the altercation. Many times, it's over a simple dispute between loved ones and acquaintances. Other times it's a mutual combat type situation where one gets beat up badly and, with corroborating pictures and the “victim's” statements, an officer sees an Assault and Battery. However, the officer is not usually present during the incident and an individual would do well to have an assault lawyer represent them during the case. We offer a Free Consultation to discuss your case. Give us a call or use the contact form below. Text-Call: 703-300-5426.
What is Assault and Battery?
Assault and battery is defined under § 18.2-57 of the Virginia Code. The statute dictates that any person who commits a simple assault or a battery is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Additionally, if the assault is committed due to race, religion, or national origin, there is a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail. An assault of an individual knowing or having reason to know that the individual is a full-time or part-time employee of any public or private elementary or secondary school shall result in a mandatory minimum of 2 days in jail. An assault of an individual knowing or having reason to know that the individual is a health care provider engaged in performance of their duties shall result in a mandatory minimum of 2 days in jail.
An assault of individual knowing or having reason to know that individual is a judge, law enforcement officer, firefighter, or correctional officer is a Class 6 felony of which a conviction shall result in a mandatory jail sentence of not less than 6 months.
Definition of Assault:
Assault is defined under common law. The statute does not specifically define what assault and battery is. Generally, an assault occurs where there is an attempted battery. An attempted battery occurs where there is an intent to commit a harmful or offensive touching. On the other hand, a battery is the completed act of a harmful or offensive touching. The courts usually use these terms interchangeably.
Domestic Assault occurs between two individuals who are considered a Family or Household Member to one another (§ 18.2-57.2). Like simple assault, domestic assault is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. The definition of Family or Household member is codified under § 16.1-228 of the Virginia Code. Family or Household member includes:
(i) Spouse; (ii) Former Spouse; (iii) Parents, Stepparents, Children, Stepchildren, Brothers, Sisters, Half-Brothers, Half-Sisters, Grandparents,and Grandchildren; (iv) Mother-in-Law, Father-in-Law, Sons-in-Law, Daughters-in-Law, Brothers-in-Law and Sisters-in-Law who reside in the same house as the person; (v) Any individual who has a child in common with the person; (vi) any individual who cohabits or, within the previous 12 months, cohabited with the individual, and any children of either of them then residing in the same home as the person.
Defenses to Assault:
Provided the force used is only which is necessary to repel the attacker, Virginia recognizes self defense. Generally, it is a “like-force” standard. For example, an individual being attacked by punches may repel the offender by punches. However, the individual being attacked cannot repel simple punches by stabbing the offender unless, for example, they are repeated blows to the head and the individual is left with no choice. Such arguments are within the discretion of the court or jury to determine whether the self defense used was excessive or not. Self Defense applies both to Simple Assault and Domestic Assault.
§19.2-151: When a person is charged with an assault and battery or other misdemeanor, if the person injured appears before the court, acknowledges in writing that they've received satisfaction for the injury, the court may, in its discretion, dismiss the prosecution upon payment of court costs by the Defendant. Generally, this type of situation arises where the injured party receives compensation for their injuries. It is within the discretion of the court whether or not to accept the accord and satisfaction. Additionally, accord and satisfaction is not available for domestic assault cases.
Dismissal for Domestic Assault Cases:
Persons charged with first offense of assault and battery against a family or household member may be placed on local community based probation under §18.2-57.3 of the Virginia Code. When a person is charged with a violation of §18.2-57.2 (domestic assault), the court may defer the proceedings against such person, without a finding of guilt, and place him on probation under the terms of this section. Upon fulfillment of the terms and conditions specified in the court order, the court shall discharge the person and dismiss the proceedings against him. Generally, the court will continue the case for two years and refer the offending individual to an anger management program. Provided the program is completed and no new criminal convictions were incurred during that time period, the court will dismiss the charge.
Domestic Assault Issues:
Many people call the police because they want the police to mediate the dispute. Other times the call is designed for the police to “teach their spouse a lesson.” However, it is not typically realized by the parties that there is a general rule with domestic violence cases that the police need to arrest someone and have issued a temporary emergency 72-hour protective order forcing the two apart. As a result, one party is charged with domestic assault, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
In Fairfax County, special domestic violence prosecutors are assigned to the intimate partner domestic assault cases (i.e. Husband and Wife). As a result, they take their cases very seriously. It is important to have an attorney because, just because the “victim” doesn't wish to proceed, doesn't mean the prosecutor will not force the case forward. We have had many cases where the victim will ask the prosecutor to drop the charges and, yet, the prosecutor wishes to proceed with the case because the victim is not a party but merely a witness to the Commonwealth. As a result, such a trial puts an individual without a lawyer at a major disadvantage in their case.
Hire an Assault Lawyer for your Assault Case:
Assault charges are ripe for misdemeanor convictions and jail time. Remember, just because the victim in a simple assault case or domestic assault case does not wish to proceed does not mean the charges will be automatically dropped. We have represented many individuals in cases where the victim is upset and wants jail time and in those cases where the victim does not wish to proceed. In either setting, be sure to have a lawyer.