Virginia Assault and Battery
Under Virginia law, the common law offenses of assault and battery have been merged. In Virginia, assault and battery are codified under the Code of Virginia.
In Virginia, an assault and battery is an act intended to cause an apprehension of harm or offensive contact. The uttering of words in the absence of an act are not an assault. The words must be accompanied by some act indicating that the accused may actually carry out the threat. Assault also requires that the accused also have the intent to commit the assault. For an assault to occur, the alleged victim must have a reasonable apprehension of imminent injury or imminent unlawful contact.
Assault and battery is a general intent offense. Therefore, the accused does not need to intend the specific harm that will result from the unwanted contact, but only the intent to commit an act of unwanted contact. Gross negligence and recklessness may provide the required intent. If the assault and battery are perpetrated by a mob, each participant can be found guilty of the offense of assault and battery in Virginia.
In Virginia, the traditional defenses for a charge of assault and battery are available. Lack of the intent to commit a Virginia assault and battery and self-defense are the most common defenses to a charge of assault and battery in Virginia.
Under Virginia law, an aggravated offense of assault and battery may be charged as malicious wounding.
Under the Code of Virginia, some assault and battery charges may include:
- Assault and battery
- Assault and battery against a household or family member
- Additional considerations for military personnel convicted of assault and battery in Virginia
- Discretionary civil remedy to assault and battery charges in Virginia – Accord and satisfaction
§ 18.2-57. Assault and battery.
A. Any person who commits a simple assault or assault and battery shall be 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.
B. 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 shall be 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.
C. 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 law-enforcement officer as defined hereinafter, a correctional officer as defined in § 53.1-1, a person employed by the Department of Corrections directly involved in the care, treatment or supervision of inmates in the custody of the Department, a firefighter as defined in § 65.2-102, or a volunteer firefighter or lifesaving or rescue squad member who is a member of a bona fide volunteer fire department or volunteer rescue or emergency medical squad regardless of whether a resolution has been adopted by the governing body of a political subdivision recognizing such firefighters or members as employees, engaged in the performance of his public duties, 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.
D. 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 teacher, principal, assistant principal, or guidance counselor of any public or private elementary or secondary school and is engaged in the performance of his duties as such, he shall be 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.
E. As used in this section:
“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.
“Law-enforcement officer” means any full-time or part-time employee of a police department or sheriff’s office which 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 this Commonwealth, and any conservation officer of the Department of Conservation and Recreation commissioned pursuant to § 10.1-115, and conservation police officers appointed pursuant to § 29.1-200, 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 and auxiliary deputy sheriffs appointed pursuant to § 15.2-1603.
“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.
F. “Simple assault” or “assault and battery” shall not be construed to include the use of, by any teacher, teacher aide, principal, assistant principal, guidance counselor, school security officer, school bus driver or school bus aide, 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 teacher, teacher aide, principal, assistant principal, guidance counselor, school security officer, school bus driver, or school bus aide at the time of the event.
§ 18.2-57.2. Assault and battery against a family or household member; penalty.
A. Any person who commits an assault and battery against a family or household member is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
B. Upon a conviction for assault and battery against a family or household member, where it is alleged in the warrant, 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 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, or (v) 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.
C. 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.
D. The definition of “family or household member” in § 16.1-228 applies to this section.
§ 18.2-57.4. Reporting findings of assault and battery to military family advocacy representatives.
If any active duty member of the United States Armed Forces is found guilty of a violation of § 18.2-57.2 or § 18.2-57.3, the court shall report the conviction to family advocacy representatives of the United States Armed Forces.
§ 19.2-151. Satisfaction and discharge of assault and similar charges.
When a person is in jail or under a recognizance to answer a charge of assault and battery or other misdemeanor, or has been indicted for an assault and battery or other misdemeanor for which there is a remedy by civil action, unless the offense was committed (i) by or upon any law-enforcement officer, (ii) riotously in violation of §§ 18.2-404 to 18.2-407, (iii) against a family or household member in violation of § 18.2-57.2, or (iv) with intent to commit a felony, if the person injured appears before the court which made the commitment or took the recognizance, or before the court in which the indictment is pending, and acknowledges in writing that he has received satisfaction for the injury, the court may, in its discretion, by an order, supersede the commitment, discharge the recognizance, or dismiss the prosecution, upon payment by the defendant of costs accrued to the Commonwealth or any of its officers.
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