Virginia criminal statutes set out several different assault charges with different degrees of severity. The more severe the crime, the more severe the potential consequences of a guilty plea or conviction can be. One serious charge is that of felony malicious wounding, a Class 3 felony. If the state charges you with Malicious Wounding and proves the elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you could be sentenced up to twenty years in jail (with a minimum of five years) and you could be ordered to pay up to a $100,000 fine. The consequences of a malicious wounding conviction can significantly impact your employment, immigration status, security clearances, and personal relationships. You should contact an experienced Northern Virginia criminal defense attorney who knows how to defend this particular charge.
There are two main elements that a prosecutor must prove for a malicious wounding conviction. These are:
- That a defendant intended to maliciously wound, injure, cut, stab, shoot someone with intent to maim, disfigure, disable or kill that person; and
- The defendant committed a direct but ineffectual act towards this purpose.
Criminal malice is defined as having the ill will to do an intentional and wrongful act without legal justification. A wound is considered to be a breaking of the skin, an injury that causes bleeding, or internal organ damage. However, the victim does not actually have to suffer serious injury for the charge to apply. Instead the focus is on whether the defendant intended to cause a wound. Because the statute specifies that the defendant may use “any means,” injury does not have to be caused by a traditional weapon like a knife or a gun. A person can use their bare hands or as in a notorious case, command his pit bill to attack someone. Since the statute is quite broad, there are many circumstances under which a prosecutor can and will charge felony malicious wounding. If you end up involved in a simple bar fight, the prosecutor may allege that you used strong or brutal force behind your punches and you may find yourself facing a malicious wounding charge and up to twenty years behind bars.
The Malicious Wounding statute contains wording that allows a prosecutor to charge a lesser crime under certain facts. The lesser charge of Unlawful Wounding is a Class 6 felony punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison, or a judge or jury may jail the defendant for 0 to 12 months and impose a fine of up to $2,500.00. This type of crime is charged when there is insufficient evidence that the defendant acted with malicious intent or with the intent to kill.
Often, there are good defenses to the charge of Malicious Wounding and Unlawful Wounding, including Self Defense and Defense of Others. These defenses may be explored by the attorney and used successfully to defend the client at the Preliminary Hearing in General District Court or trial in Circuit Court. A good example is when an individual walks into a fast food restaurant and is verbally and physically abusive to staff. The employees and management in these circumstances may use reasonable force to defend themselves snd their co-workers from harm. This type of case has favorable facts for the defendant and it is more difficult for the prosecution to prove their case. The defendant likely will obtain dismissal or acquittal of their charge if the case is pursued at trial in Circuit Court.
Contact a Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney for Help
If you are facing a Malicious Wounding, Unlawful Wounding, or other criminal charge, it is imperative that you contact a dedicated Fairfax criminal defense attorney who will provide you with a zealous defense. Attorney Yeargan has 20 years of trial experience in Virginia state and federal courts. Contact his office today for a free, initial consultation. He will discuss the facts of your case and develop a strategy for achieving the best possible outcome in court.