Assault and Assault & Battery

I’m an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va. In Virginia, both assault and battery are contained in one code section.  However, an assault and a battery are two different things. An “Assault” is an overt act intended to do bodily harm to another together with the present ability to cause such harm.  It is also an overt act intended to place a person in fear or apprehension of bodily harm that creates in him a reasonable fear or apprehension of harm.  Note that it does not require actual contact.  A “Battery” is the willful touching/contact of another, without legal excuse or justification, done in an angry, rude, insulting, or vengeful manner.  As noted above, for purposes of Virginia criminal law, assault and battery are essentially interchangeable and charged as the same crime—so an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va will defend charges of assault or battery in the same manner.

Note: Our lawyers practice in Fairfax, and all other counties of Virginia. We have offices in Fairfax, Arlington, and Staunton. We reference Fairfax, Va. in this article because it is the largest jurisdiction in Virginia with the most rigid procedures. Work done to Fairfax standards meets or exceeds the standards in every other jurisdiction in the Commonwealth, so it is common to use it as a benchmark.

At a minimum, assault is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.00.  However, the degree of violence associated with an assault will determine the specific charges and an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va will need to carefully consider the allegations in preparing the appropriate defense.  In fact, the more violent the assault, the worse the potential punishment.  At some point, an assault can become “murder,” punishable by death or “malicious wounding” punishable by up to 20 years in prison or 5 years in prison, depending upon the severity.  An experienced assault lawyer Fairfax, Va will be able to understand the nature of such criminal charges and prepare the best possible defense for the client.

More specifically, there are several forms of assault that an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va will be required to defend – ranging from serious felonies to misdemeanors.

For example, assault under Virginia Code § 18.2-57 is often referred to as “simple assault.” In addition, there is a special class of cases involving when an assault is committed against family or household members under Virginia Code § 18.2-57, which could affect one’s civil rights in ways much different than simple assault.  There could also be special punishments that apply if the alleged victim is a law enforcement officer, healthcare provider, or teacher.  And there are “hate crimes” where extra jail is given if the victim is selected because of his race or religion.

Each distinct fact impacts the defense strategy and steps that an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va must take to defend the specific case.

In addition to simple assault, other examples of felony assault type cases that an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va may be called upon to defend include:

Malicious or Unlawful Wounding

Malicious wounding is when someone is accused of shooting, stabbing, cutting or wounding another with the intent to maim, disable or kill him or her.  The maximum penalty is up to 20 years in prison.  Unlawful wounding is when someone is accused of wounding someone, but without intending that he or she be maimed, disabled or killed.  The maximum penalty is up to 5 years in prison.

Aggravated Malicious Wounding

Aggravated malicious wounding can be charged when the damages from the malicious wounding are such that the victim is permanently and significantly impaired physically.  The maximum penalty is up to life in prison.


Strangulation is an assault that involves knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully impeding the blood circulation or respiration of another.  The maximum penalty is up to 5 years in prison.

A skilled assault lawyer Fairfax, Va will employ several defenses to try to win these kinds of cases.  Or, if it makes sense given the specific facts and circumstances, an assault lawyer Fairfax, Va may also attempt to negotiate to reduce a felony down to a misdemeanor of simple assault.  Since the range of punishments for felony assault type cases can include many years in prison (even life), sometimes this can be the best possible result for the client.

Defending assault crimes requires an experienced assault lawyer Fairfax, Va.  Having a top assault lawyer Fairfax, Va is key to ensuring your rights are protected.