What is Assault?
Assault is when someone purposely attempts to or threatens to cause offensive or harmful contact to another person. This means you can be charged with assault even if you didn’t actually touch the other person! Many people are familiar with the term “assault and battery.” Battery is the physical contact.
What are the consequences of a conviction?
In Virginia, Assault is a class one misdemeanor, which means that it is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. The consequences may be even harsher depending on the facts of the case. If someone has prior domestic assault convictions or the assault results in injuries, then the charge could be a class 6 felony. This means that it could be punishable by 1-5 years in prison. Virginia Code Section 18.2-57.2 covers Assault and battery against a family or household member penalties.
What is Assault on a Family or Household Member?
Assault is charged differently when the alleged victim of an assault is a family member or someone who lives in the same home as the accused. This charge commonly occurs between spouses. This type of case is heard in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations court instead of the General District Court where other criminal matters are heard.
What happens if the alleged victim doesn’t want to press charges anymore?
The Commonwealth Attorney’s office is who prosecutes assault cases and they take them very seriously. It is common for alleged victims to change their mind about wanting to press charges. However, the Commonwealth Attorney’s offices in Hampton Roads have a policy of following through on all assault cases, regardless of whether the alleged victim changes their mind. This is to protect victims who are scared to move forward with pressing charges.
What is a good defense?
There are several options for you if you have been charged. If you have a good record then you may qualify for a First Offender Disposition. This would mean that your case will be continued for 1-2 years. During that time period you must complete a series of requirements imposed by the court. The requirements typically include some type of counseling or an Anger Management course, court fees and costs, and no new offenses. Your case may be dismissed if you complete all the requirements. This is a great option to maintain your good record!
A common defense to assault is also self-defense. You are legally allowed to defend yourself against an aggressor.
Another defense is arguing that there was no intent. Assault must be deliberately committed, and cannot be an accident.
The facts of your case will determine what the best strategy is. Call Commander Law today at (757) 533-5400 to discuss your case and find out what we can do to help you.