Violent Crimes: Assault and Battery

This charge is a class 1 misdemeanor. Under §18.2-57 of the Virginia code lists the penalties for a Virginia Assault charge. Domestic Assault is also charged as a misdemeanor, but is found under §18.2-57.2.

Consequences of these charges:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $2,500
  • A lifetime bar from the possession of firearms or munitions for domestic charges
  • A criminal record (that would appear on background checks)

Assault

Assault

Assault is defined as the apprehension of a harmful or offense contact. This assault can result from the attempt to battery or apprehension of a battery.

This attempt is an attempted harmful or offensive touching. To prove an attempted battery-the Prosecutor MUST SHOW that the offender intended a battery and performed some direct act (though ineffectual act) towards the commission of the crime.

If the Prosecutor can show the offender threatened to batter and had the “ability to do so” the threat can be actual or implied. The threat must be more than just words. This must commit some act that indicates he or she is trying to harm the victim.

Battery

A battery is a willful, unwanted touching of another done without justification or excuse. The touching does not have to cause injury to be charged as a battery. The touching does not have to cause injury to be charged as a battery. This allows Virginia to charge battery for spitting on a victim, pushing or shoving a victim or grabbing the victim. The touching can also include causing some object to contact the victim (even if you never touched the victim).

Intent is considered MUCH more than force used.

Defenses:

Consent: Is a complete defense of battery. (Examples of this include boxing matches). BUT if the scope of consent is exceeded, the initial consent can become unwanted and would therefore be a battery. One also can’t consent to serious injury or consent when obtained by fraud or duress that consent is not a defense.

Defense of Self or Others: A person can use the amount of force equal to that of the aggressor to protect themselves, others, or property. Excessive force (more than is used) can turn the defense into the offense of battery.

The Touching was Accidental: A battery requires that the touching was INTENTIONAL unwanted or offensive touching. A touching that occurs is purely by accident and it must not be RECKLESS. This would not be a battery.

Virginia Assault and Battery Statute
§ 18.2-57. Assault and battery; penalty.

Any person who commits a simple assault or assault and battery is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, and if the person intentionally selects the person against whom a simple assault is committed because of his race, religious conviction, color or national origin, the penalty upon conviction shall include a term of confinement of at least six months, 30 days of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of confinement.

However, if a person intentionally selects the person against whom an assault and battery resulting in bodily injury is committed because of his race, religious conviction, color or national origin, the person is guilty of a Class 6 felony, and the penalty upon conviction shall include a term of confinement of at least six months, 30 days of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of confinement.

In addition, if any person commits an assault or an assault and battery against another knowing or having reason to know that such other person is a judge, a magistrate, a law-enforcement officer as defined in subsection F, a correctional officer as defined in § 53.1-1, a person directly involved in the care, treatment, or supervision of inmates in the custody of the Department of Corrections or an employee of a local or regional correctional facility directly involved in the care, treatment, or supervision of inmates in the custody of the facility, a person directly involved in the care, treatment, or supervision of persons in the custody of or under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice, an employee or other individual who provides control, care, or treatment of sexually violent predators committed to the custody of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, a firefighter as defined in § 65.2-102, or a volunteer firefighter or any emergency medical services personnel member who is employed by or is a volunteer of an emergency medical services agency or as a member of a bona fide volunteer fire department or volunteer emergency medical services agency, regardless of whether a resolution has been adopted by the governing body of a political subdivision recognizing such firefighters or emergency medical services personnel as employees, engaged in the performance of his public duties anywhere in the Commonwealth, such person is guilty of a Class 6 felony, and, upon conviction, the sentence of such person shall include a mandatory minimum term of confinement of six months.

Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to affect the right of any person charged with a violation of this section from asserting and presenting evidence in support of any defenses to the charge that may be available under common law. In addition, if any person commits a battery against another knowing or having reason to know that such other person is a full-time or part-time employee of any public or private elementary or secondary school and is engaged in the performance of his duties as such, he is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and the sentence of such person upon conviction shall include a sentence of 15 days in jail, two days of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of confinement. However, if the offense is committed by use of a firearm or other weapon prohibited on school property pursuant to § 18.2-308.1, the person shall serve a mandatory minimum sentence of confinement of six months.

In addition, any person who commits a battery against another knowing or having reason to know that such individual is a health care provider as defined in § 8.01-581.1who is engaged in the performance of his duties in a hospital or in an emergency room on the premises of any clinic or other facility rendering emergency medical care is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The sentence of such person, upon conviction, shall include a term of confinement of 15 days in jail, two days of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of confinement.

As used in this section:

“Hospital” means a public or private institution licensed pursuant to Chapter 5 (§ 32.1-123 et seq.) of Title 32.1 or Article 2 (§ 37.2-403 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 37.2.

“Judge” means any justice or judge of a court of record of the Commonwealth including a judge designated under § 17.1-105, a judge under temporary recall under § 17.1-106, or a judge pro tempore under § 17.1-109, any member of the State Corporation Commission, or of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, and any judge of a district court of the Commonwealth or any substitute judge of such district court.

(Effective until January 15, 2018)”Law-enforcement officer” means any full-time or part-time employee of a police department or sheriff’s office that is part of or administered by the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof who is responsible for the prevention or detection of crime and the enforcement of the penal, traffic or highway laws of the Commonwealth, any conservation officer of the Department of Conservation and Recreation commissioned pursuant to § 10.1-115, any special agent of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, conservation police officers appointed pursuant to § 29.1-200, full-time sworn members of the enforcement division of the Department of Motor Vehicles appointed pursuant to § 46.2-217, and any employee with internal investigations authority designated by the Department of Corrections pursuant to subdivision 11 of § 53.1-10, and such officer also includes jail officers in local and regional correctional facilities, all deputy sheriffs, whether assigned to law-enforcement duties, court services or local jail responsibilities, auxiliary police officers appointed or provided for pursuant to §§ 15.2-1731 and 15.2-1733, auxiliary deputy sheriffs appointed pursuant to § 15.2-1603, police officers of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority pursuant to § 5.1-158, and fire marshals appointed pursuant to § 27-30 when such fire marshals have police powers as set out in §§ 27-34.2 and 27-34.2:1.


“School security officer” means an individual who is employed by the local school board for the purpose of maintaining order and discipline, preventing crime, investigating violations of school board policies and detaining persons violating the law or school board policies on school property, a school bus or at a school-sponsored activity and who is responsible solely for ensuring the safety, security and welfare of all students, faculty and staff in the assigned school.

“Simple assault” or “assault and battery” shall not be construed to include the use of, by any school security officer or full-time or part-time employee of any public or private elementary or secondary school while acting in the course and scope of his official capacity, any of the following: (i) incidental, minor or reasonable physical contact or other actions designed to maintain order and control; (ii) reasonable and necessary force to quell a disturbance or remove a student from the scene of a disturbance that threatens physical injury to persons or damage to property; (iii) reasonable and necessary force to prevent a student from inflicting physical harm on himself; (iv) reasonable and necessary force for self-defense or the defense of others; or (v) reasonable and necessary force to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects or controlled substances or associated paraphernalia that are upon the person of the student or within his control.

In determining whether a person was acting within the exceptions provided in this subsection, due deference shall be given to reasonable judgments that were made by a school security officer or full-time or part-time employee of any public or private elementary or secondary school at the time of the event.

Va Code 18.2-57.2. Domestic Assault and battery against a family or household member; penalty.

Any person who commits a domestic assault and battery against a family or household member is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Upon a conviction for assault and battery against a family or household member, where it is alleged in the warrant, petition, information, or indictment on which a person is convicted, that such person has been previously convicted of two offenses against a family or household member of (i) assault and battery against a family or household member in violation of this section, (ii) malicious wounding or unlawful wounding in violation of § 18.2-51, (iii) aggravated malicious wounding in violation of § 18.2-51.2, (iv) malicious bodily injury by means of a substance in violation of § 18.2-52, (v) strangulation in violation of § 18.2-51.6, or (vi) an offense under the law of any other jurisdiction which has the same elements of any of the above offenses, in any combination, all of which occurred within a period of 20 years, and each of which occurred on a different date, such person is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

Whenever a warrant for a violation of this section is issued, the magistrate shall issue an emergency protective order as authorized by § 16.1-253.4, except if the defendant is a minor, an emergency protective order shall not be required.

The definition of “family or household member” in § 16.1-228 applies to this section.