The Virginia criminal justice community cracks down hard on individuals who commit violent crimes, so you can expect police and prosecutors to aggressively pursue you for a violation of Virginia’s assault and battery statute. This offense encompasses two types of wrongful acts: The threat to do physical harm to someone along with the actual infliction of injury. When you consider these factors, other legal challenges, and the requirement to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you can see that the prosecutor has quite a heavy burden to obtain a conviction against you.
As such, it is critical to take advantage of the situation by retaining an experienced Virginia assault and battery defense lawyer to defend your interests. However, it is equally important to do your homework and find the best fit for your circumstances. In talking to potential candidates, here are a few questions to ask.
- What percentage of your practice is the area of criminal law? Many attorneys handle cases in a wide range of practice areas, so you want to make sure that your lawyer primarily focuses on criminal law. Ask what portion of that person’s clients are criminal cases, specifically assault and battery. You might also inquire about whether the candidate was a prosecutor before moving into the private sector, as a position prosecuting brings useful experience for handling criminal defense.
- Are there any potential defenses to assault and battery charges in Virginia? One of the most effective ways to fight the allegations is presenting evidence and/or testimony that you were acting in self-defense or defense of others. In certain situations, you may also be able to claim a defense on the grounds of “mutual combatants.” An example might be where you are defending against assault and battery charges stemming from a bar fight.
- How might my assault and battery case be resolved? Of course, you want to “win” your case by having the charges dismissed or being acquitted. However, in light of the defenses mentioned above, there are other strategies to consider and multiple outcomes to pursue. The best possible result in a Virginia assault and battery case might be plea bargaining. Entering a guilty plea based upon an agreement with the prosecutor is a common way of resolving these cases: The US Department of Justice reports that around 90-95 percent of federal AND state cases conclude through plea bargains.
- What is the punishment if I am convicted for assault and battery? The offense is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, which means you face up to one year in jail, a fine up to $2,500, or both. Virginia has enacted specific provision for individuals charged with assault and battery against a member of the family or household. You may qualify for the “deferred” process as a first-time offender, a type of probation where the charges will be dropped if you meet the terms and conditions required by the court. You must also meet several requirements stated in the statute.
- Who will be the point person I deal with at your office? While you may be speaking to a clerk or support staff occasionally, your lawyer should be the primary point of contact when you need information. If you find that a non-lawyer will be taking your calls, you might want to continue your search.
Trust a Virginia Assault and Battery Defense Attorney to Fight for Your Rights
If you were recently arrested and want to know more about how our team can assist, please contact Shannon & Associates, P.C. to set up a consultation at our Chesapeake, VA offices. We are happy to answer additional questions regarding our skills and experience fighting for our clients’ rights. Once we review your circumstances, a Virginia assault and battery defense lawyer can advise you on defense potential strategies.