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Understanding assault and battery charges in Virginia


While some states treat assault and battery as a single crime, Virginia distinguishes between assault and battery vs. simple assault. Battery requires unwanted, harmful physical contact while assault requires only a threat or attempt.

Before facing this type of court date, review the difference between types of assault and battery charges in the state.

Simple assault

Threatening someone with harmful physical contact or attempting to harm someone in this way constitutes simple assault in Virginia. A convicted person could face up to $2,500 in fines and up to 12 months in prison depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Assault and battery

With assault and battery, the offender actually makes contact that causes harm to another person. Many assault and battery crimes are minor, such as those involving a physical fight without weapons.

A convicted person could receive enhanced charges when the victim was a family member, health care provider, law enforcement officer, judge, teacher, EMT or member of certain other groups. For example, assault because of someone’s race, religion or sexual orientation carries a minimum of six months and up to five years in jail.

Aggressive malicious wounding

An elevated category of battery, aggravated malicious wounding, carries 20 years to life in prison. An offender could receive this conviction for:

  • Causing serious or permanent injuries or physical impairment
  • Intending to kill, disfigure or seriously injure the victim
  • Causing bodily injury by shooting, stabbing or wounding someone

An offender may attempt to prove that he or she acted in self-defense or did not intend to injure the victim.

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