The criminal offense of Assault and Battery is a Class One Misdemeanor in Virginia. §18.2-57 of the Virginia Code states that the maximum penalty upon conviction is 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. If the defendant “intentionally selects the person against whom a simple assault is committed because of his race, religious conviction, color or national origin, the penalty upon conviction shall include a term of confinement of at least six months, 30 days of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of confinement.”
Virginia Assault and Battery Laws
The Virginia Code further states that Assault and Battery is a felony when the defendant intentionally selects the person assaulted based on their race, religious conviction, color or national origin and the individual sustains bodily injury. The Code designates the crime as a Class 6 felony, punishable by imprisonment for one year to five years or, alternatively, confinement in jail for up to 12 months, and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Subdivision B of §18.2-57 specifies a minimum term of confinement of six months, with 30 days of that sentence mandatory.
Additional Provisions for Assault and Batter
There are other provisions in §18.2-57 which make the charge of Assault and Battery a felony. Assault and Battery against a judge, police officer, correctional officer, firefighter or rescue squad member is deemed a Class 6 felony under subsection C. It is punishable by imprisonment of one year to five years or, alternatively, confinement in jail for up to 12 months, and/or a fine of up to $2,500. There is a mandatory, minimum term of confinement of six months.
Assault and Battery Against a Family Member
Assault and Battery of a Family or Household Member under Virginia Code §18.2-57.2 is a unique category of offense. A first and second offense under this section is a Class One Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. A third offense is a Class 6 felony, punishable by one to five years in prison. The judge or jury may alternatively impose zero to twelve months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
Assault and Batter Against a Teacher
Assault and Battery against a teacher, principal or guidance counselor remains a Class One Misdemeanor under subsection D. A defendant may receive up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. However, the Code states that the sentence shall include at least 15 days in jail, with two days of the sentence term mandatory. The mandatory, minimum sentence is increased to six months if a firearm or other weapon is used in the offense.
Defenses Against Assault and Battery Charges
There are several defenses to the charge of Assault and Battery. The first major defense is called Accord and Satisfaction. This defense is available under §19.2-151 of the Virginia Code. The alleged victim may agree in writing to dismiss the charges upon agreement of the parties. Usually, this involves a financial settlement of damages. Accord and Satisfaction allows the existing arrest to be expunged from the record of the accused. It is not available when the Assault and Battery was against a law enforcement officer or a family or household member.
Plea of Self-defense
Also, Assault and Battery charges may involve an affirmative plea of self-defense. The defendant may assert this defense when he reasonably feared death or bodily injury. The force used by the defendant must be in proportion to the threat presented by the alleged victim. This is a good defense in appropriate cases, and may result in dismissal of the charge.
Proving Charges Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant charged with assault and battery intended to make contact with the victim. If the contact was unintentional, or even unavoidable, the government cannot prove the case. The criminal intent of the defendant, or mens rea, is an essential element of the charge.
Deferral procedures are available to first-time offenders charged with Assault and Battery of a Family or Household Member under §18.2-57.2. The court may place the defendant on probation and order that he or she complete an anger management program. The case is deferred with no finding of guilt. If the defendant is cooperative and complies with the order of the court, then the charge is dismissed by the judge. Virginia Code §18.2-57.3 provides for this type of disposition
Contact a Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you need help with a pending Assault and Battery charge, contact Attorney Yeargan for immediate assistance. He will review the facts of your case and develop an effective defense strategy. His firm represents clients throughout Northern Virginia and is well known as a tough and aggressive advocate. Call his office directly or send Attorney Yeargan an online message today to discuss your case and your best legal options.