Many people use the words assault and battery as though they were interchangeable or inextricably intertwined. While the two definitely relate to one another, their meanings do vary somewhat from state to state and can either overlap or exist independent of one another.
Virginia defines assault as the attempt to cause battery of another person or the attempt to put someone in fear for their physical safety. Battery is violent and unwanted physical contact which may cause serious physical injuries. Physical contact can involve a tool or weapon, not just your body.
As you can see, assault charges can stem from threatening someone with your words or actions, not just from actually striking them. The exact situation will influence whether the charges involve simple assault or assault and battery charges. In some cases, a person could also face aggravated malicious wounding charges.
What is simple assault?
Simple assault typically involves the threat of violence or a brief physical altercation that does not result in severe injuries. A fight that doesn’t progress beyond grabbing each other’s coats or a shove could be an example of simple assault.
Simple assault could also involve aggressive or threatening body language or words intended to cause fear in another person. The consequences are usually up to a year in jail and fines.
What is assault and battery?
Once someone causes severe bodily injury, they will likely find themselves charged with assault and battery, with the word battery here referring to the serious injuries suffered by one party. Like simple assault, assault and battery will usually result in up to a year in jail.
What is aggravated malicious wounding under Virginia law?
As you might imagine from the name, aggravated malicious wounding is one of the most severe forms of battery or assault under Virginia law. Those facing aggravated malicious wounding charges will likely face a Class 2 felony that could result in up to 20 years or life in prison in some cases.
In an aggravated malicious wounding, there must be an intent to cause a severe injury such as disfigurement, disability or death. The use of a weapon, such as a gun or a knife, can typically qualify someone for charges in this category, even if the injuries are not life-threatening.
Treat all assault charges as serious offenses
You might laugh it off when you find out that a person you got into a fight with wants to press charges. Regardless of the circumstances involved, you should always take assault and battery charges seriously in Virginia.
Sitting down to talk with an attorney as soon as you know that criminal charges are likely is probably a wise decision. An attorney can help you figure out what defense options you have and how to mitigate the consequences of pending assault charges.