An altercation or fight can lead to a criminal charge of assault or battery. While these crimes are normally charged as misdemeanor offenses, the offense may instead be charged as a felony in certain cases.
What Is Assault? What Is Battery?
In Virginia, assault and battery are considered two different criminal offenses. A person may be charged with assault under one of two circumstances:
- A person is accused of committing some physical act intended to inflict harm on a victim, and the accused had the ability to inflict harm or injury on the victim
- A person is accused of performing some overt act intending to place the victim in fear of injury, and as a result, the victim is placed in fear of imminent injury or death
On the other hand, battery is the act of offensive, unwanted touching of the victim. Thus, the crime of battery primarily differs from the crime of assault because battery requires that the victim be physically touched, whereas assault does not require any physical altercations.
When Might Assault and Battery Be Charged as a Felony?
Under certain circumstances, a charge may be upgraded to a felony offense. Assault and battery may be charged as a felony in cases involving:
- Hate crimes — A battery that is inflicted on a victim based on the victim’s race, color, national origin, and/or religion may be charged as a Class 6 felony. A Class 6 felony carries a minimum sentence of six months, of which a convicted defendant must serve at least 30 days, with a possible sentence of up to one to five years in prison.
- Domestic violence — If a person commits a battery against a family or household member, and the person has prior convictions for domestic violence, assault, and/or battery, he or she can be charged with a Class 6 felony.
- Unlawful wounding — A battery that involves the cutting, stabbing, or shooting of a victim may result in a Class 6 felony charge.
- Malicious wounding —Malicious wounding occurs during a battery where the victim is cut, stabbed, or shot, and the offender committed the battery with malice. Malice is defined as the intent to disfigure, disable, or kill the victim. Malicious wounding is normally charged as a Class 3 felony, which carries a sentence of five to 20 years imprisonment and a possible fine of up to $100,000. However, suppose a malicious wounding results in significant, permanent impairment or the loss of a pregnancy. In that case, the offense can be charged as a Class 2 felony, which may result in a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.
When Should I Contact a Lawyer to Represent Me?
If you have been charged with felony assault or battery in Virginia, you need to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. You will have important decisions that you soon need to make after your arrest. Even if you are only under investigation for an assault or battery, you should still contact a lawyer to help your case even in the earliest stages.
How Invictus Law Could Help
If you are facing felony assault and battery charges, let Invictus Law go to work to fight for your freedom and future by:
- Independently investigating your case to recover evidence that we can use to prove your innocence
- Helping you understand your charges, your legal rights and options, and the potential outcomes in your case
- Challenging the prosecution’s evidence and aggressively pursuing reduction or dismissal of your charges
- Defending you in court and at trial by fighting to secure your acquittal
If you have been charged with felony assault and battery in Virginia, you need aggressive criminal defense lawyers who fight to defend your reputation and freedom. Contact Invictus Law today for a confidential consultation to discuss how our Virginia Beach criminal defense attorneys can advocate for your rights in the criminal justice system.