At one time or another, we have all had a disagreement with a friend or family member. If your disagreement escalates into an assault, you could face serious penalties.
In Virginia, the prosecution must prove several elements to find you guilty of assault. First, they must demonstrate that you intended to cause the victim harm or a fear of harm. They must also show that you caused the victim an actual physical injury, such as bruises, broken bones, fractures or other harm.
They will also consider whether you caused the victim serious bodily injury, which leads to a substantial risk of death or permanent impairment. If a weapon was involved, the prosecution may seek more penalties against you.
If the assault was against law enforcement or a similar authority, there may be enhanced charges.
There are several potential defenses to consider, however the outcome of your case will depend on the circumstances involved in the assault. You may be able to argue that you acted in self-defense if you reasonably believed that you had to use force to protect yourself or defense of others if you acted to protect another person from imminent harm.
Similarly, you may be able to demonstrate that you did not have an intent to cause harm. This may be used as a defense because intent is a key element of the crime.
If you can show that you were not involved in the assault and that another person is responsible, a defense of mistaken identity may apply.