In Virginia, using a weapon or any physical force on another person with the intent to injure or kill them may result in a criminal charge of malicious wounding. If you are facing a charge of malicious wounding, you may not know what the offense entails or how the crime is different from aggravated assault.
What Is Malicious Wounding?
Virginia Code §18.2-51 defines the criminal offense of malicious wounding this way: to “shoot, stab, cut, or wound any person or by any means cause him bodily injury, with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill.”
The statute further makes it illegal for a person to wound another or cause them bodily injury even if they lack premeditated intent to maim, disable, or kill. When a person inflicts injury without intent or malice, it is sometimes called the offense of unlawful wounding.
What Are the Differences Between Malicious Wounding and Aggravated Assault?
In Virginia, the criminal offense that in many states is called “aggravated assault” is called aggravated malicious wounding. Virginia law maintains the traditional legal distinction between battery, which involves a non-consensual and offensive touching of another person, and assault, which merely involves putting another person in fear of imminent bodily injury through a threat to do harm.
The crime of malicious wounding may be elevated to a charge of aggravated malicious wounding based on the severity of the injuries suffered by a victim. Aggravated malicious wounding is usually charged when the victim’s severe injuries result in significant and permanent physical impairment. Aggravated malicious wounding may also be charged if a pregnant woman suffers injuries or suffers a miscarriage or the premature termination of her pregnancy.
What Are the Penalties for a Malicious Wounding Conviction?
Malicious wounding is normally charged as a Class 3 felony. A conviction for malicious wounding carries a penalty of five to 20 years in prison and a potential fine of up to $100,000. However, if a malicious wounding is inflicted on a first responder who is performing their duties, the maximum prison sentence increases to 30 years.
Unlawful wounding, or wounding someone without malice or intent to maim, disfigure, or kill, is charged as a Class 6 felony. A conviction for this crime carries a penalty of one to five years of imprisonment and a possible fine of up to $2,500.
Aggravated malicious wounding is charged as a Class 2 felony, which carries a potential life sentence or a term sentence of not less than 20 years, plus a potential fine of up to $100,000.
Defenses to a Malicious Wounding Charge
When you are charged with malicious wounding, aggravated malicious wounding, or unlawful wounding, you may have legal or factual defenses that you can raise to pursue an acquittal or try to reduce your charge. Common defenses raised in malicious wounding cases in Virginia include:
- Mistaken identity, or arguing that you were not the perpetrator of the malicious wounding
- Lack of intent to maim, disable, or kill, which can reduce a malicious wounding charge to the lesser-included offense of unlawful wounding
- Self-defense, defense of property, or defense of others, which can act as a defense against a charge of malicious wounding. Even if you did not have a good faith basis to use self-defense, an assertion of imperfect self-defense could still lead to the reduction of a malicious wounding charge to an unlawful wounding charge
- Lack of proof of serious injury, which can reduce an aggravated malicious wounding charge to a standard malicious wounding charge
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer to Help You Face Malicious Wounding Charges in Virginia
If you have been arrested for or charged with malicious wounding in Virginia, get experienced legal help to defend yourself and protect your freedom and future. Contact Invictus Law today for a confidential consultation. You can speak with a Virginia criminal defense attorney about your legal options for facing your malicious wounding charges. Call 757-330-8455 now.