Assault and Battery
When someone gets into an argument that results in a shoving match or some other physical contact they may be charged with assault and battery. Most people think these are the same thing, but assault and battery are actually two distinct crimes.
Assault is to intentionally cause apprehension of physical harm. Battery is intentional offensive or harmful physical contact with another person. For example, if you accidentally bump into someone when a train stops suddenly, this is not battery because it’s unintentional. Furthermore, if you threaten someone without ever touching them, this is assault but not battery. Usually if there is a battery there is also assault because of the awareness of the physical contact that is imminent. It is also important to note that assault and battery do not require the use of a deadly weapon or a weapon at all.
In Virginia simple assault and battery are serious crimes but can become more serious depending on the victim. For example, if the victim was chosen because of race, sexual orientation, disability, or a number of other reasons, the person is guilty of a felony. In this case, the felony charge will result in a minimum sentence of six months in jail and can result in up to five years. The same is true for assault of a police officer, judge, firefighters, and others. There is a full list of the types of victims who command a special sentence in the Code of Virginia § 18.2-57.
Because these crimes against any victim are serious and often result in a loss of liberty, high fines, and other consequences, if you are charged with assault and battery, it is important to hire an attorney who can help develop a defense. Possible defenses include self-defense, lack of intent, and consent. This list is in no way exhaustive and the defenses available to you will depend on the facts of your case. When you hire an attorney, the attorney will sit down with you while you explain the situation in which the issue arose. The attorney will then tell you honestly how he will be able to help you under the circumstances. Being charged with a violent crime can change your life by making it harder to get a loan, a job, and a number of other consequences beyond jail time and fines. Make sure you have someone on your side who can help you avoid these life changing consequences.