It is important that you understand what constitutes an assault charge and the degree to which you may be charged. This section will provide a brief primer on the crime of assault in Fairfax County; its various degrees and classifications; and the possible exposure you could face if convicted of such crimes.
Whether the charge involves misdemeanor of felony assault, it is important that you secure qualified legal representation from a Fairfax assault lawyer as soon as possible, so that your attorney can begin the arduous process of reviewing all the facts of your case, and protecting your rights. If you need a Fairfax criminal lawyer to help you deal with other criminal charges, visit this link to learn more.
Nonetheless, if you are facing a charge for assault, these low crime rates are of little comfort. Particularly when you consider that a jurisdiction with one of the lowest crime rates in the nation leaves the criminal counts in Fairfax County with ample time and resources to aggressively pursue charges against defendants accused of such crimes.
That is why it is imperative that you seek the advice and counsel of a qualified Fairfax assault lawyer, one who has an intimate understanding of the local courts and long-standing relationships with the judges and prosecutors who will be involved in your case.
Legal Definition of Assault
Assault is the unlawful touching of one person upon another. It is divided into the following categories:
Misdemeanor Assault and Battery; an assault is considered a misdemeanor offense if there are no weapons used or displayed or if the victim does not suffer obvious bodily injury.
Felony Assault and Battery; an assault rises to the level of a felony crime if weapons are used or displayed or if the victim suffers obvious bodily harm including broken bones, broken teeth, internal injury, lacerations, or loss of consciousness. In Virginia, there are several classes of felony assault including, Felony Assault, Unlawful Wounding, Malicious Wounding, and Aggravated Malicious Wounding.
According to the Crime in Virginia 2011 report, assaults peaked in July at 772, and 44.1% of all cases involved a perpetrator and victim who knew each other previously but who were not related.
Degrees of Assault Charges
Simple assault and battery are normally treated as Class 1 Misdemeanors. Simple Assault may be upgraded to a Class 6 Felony if the victim was selected based on race, religion, color, or national origin.
The more serious aggravated assault –Felony Assault and Battery — will normally be charged as a Class 3 Felony in the case of Malicious Wounding, or Class 6 Felony in the case of Unlawful Wounding. When charged with either of these, you should contact an assault lawyer in Fairfax County. The class of felony depends on the viciousness of the assault and the injuries sustained by the victim. If there is injury that is not significant, but obvious, it will be prosecuted as a less serious Class 6 Felony. Class 3 cases involve injury that is serious, including broken bones, but not permanent. An assault resulting in permanent significant injury to the victim, including disability or disfigurement, can be prosecuted as a Class 2 Felony, Aggravated Malicious Wounding.
If an assault is targeted at a family or household member, it is classified as a Domestic Assault (more information about Fairfax domestic violence). If three cases of Domestic Assault occur within 20 years, the third offense will be classified and prosecuted as a Class 6 felony.
Assault charges can also upgrade to a Class 6 Felony if the victim was a peace officer or the attacker should have known the victim was a peace officer. In Virginia, victims besides police who fall into this upgraded protection include judges, magistrates, corrections officers, firefighters (career and volunteer), and other medical emergency service personnel. If you are facing any of these charges, please contact a Fairfax assault lawyer.
Sentencing and Punishment
Sentencing for assault depends upon the viciousness of the attack and the injuries inflicted on the victim. For instance, an assault in which the victim was barely touched and left uninjured may result in a lighter sentence than an attack rendering a victim a quadriplegic.
For the most common categories of assault charges, here is a description of possible sentences. They are listed from the least serious charge to the most serious:
Class 1 Misdemeanor (Simple Assault, Intimidation and Battery); up to 12 months in jail and fines up to $2,500.00, or a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail if the victim was targeted based on race, religion, or national origin.
Class 6 Felony (Aggravating circumstances described above, visible but less serious injuries); imprisonment from one to five years and fines up to $2,500, or up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Class 3 Felony (Victim seriously injured, but not permanently injured): Imprisonment from five to 20 years and fines up to $100,000.
Class 2 Felony (Victim seriously and permanently injured): Imprisonment from 20 years to life and fines up to $100,000.
Hire a Fairfax Assault Attorney Today
Suffering an assault charge is a very serious matter. If you are arrested for assault in Fairfax County, remain silent and compliant with law enforcement. Resisting arrest can only compound your problems by bringing additional charges or creating the appearance that you are not being compliant with the process.
However, stay vigilant of your right to remain silent. Sometimes defendants in assault and other criminal cases, even when they are not guilty of the charges against them, exacerbate the circumstances by making statements without an attorney present. Similar rules apply if you find yourself charged with assault in Maryland or Washington, DC.
That is why it is important to secure sound legal representation as soon as possible to protect your rights as a defendant throughout the criminal process, to open avenues for rehabilitation, and to keep any potential prison sentences as low as possible. If you were charged with assault of any degree, contact a Fairfax assault lawyer with for a free case consultation.