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Fredericksburg Assault Lawyer

In Fredericksburg, assault is defined as the imminent threat of force or violence that puts someone in a reasonable apprehension of bodily harm can be enough to find a person guilty of simple assault. It is defined in the same way throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia as an unwanted threat of bodily harm from a person who has the means to carry out that threat.

Fredericksburg officers treat assault cases seriously and arrests are usually made relatively quickly. Assault cases are considered violent crimes, so there is a general presumption that the defendant is a violent person, and therefore there is a high possibility of severe penalties and extensive imprisonment time if convicted.

For this reason, it is crucial that a person charged with an assault crime contact a Fredericksburg assault lawyer right away. A defense lawyer in Fredericksburg knows the law, the elements required for the state to meet its burden, and realistic defenses that are is necessary to help a person protect their interests when dealing with an assault case.

Reasonable Apprehension

Reasonable apprehension of bodily harm is a fear of immediate harm that is justified under the circumstances. A vague threat of some harm happening in the future is not enough to be an assault. It is not reasonable that a person would have a fear of imminent bodily harm in that circumstance. If the threat is more specific with details of the attack, that may be assault even though there is no act and furtherance of it. Assault is determined on a case by case basis.

Other things can factor into the reasonableness determination including how the threat is made. For example, if the threat is made face-to-face, in close proximity to each other, through media, over the phone, or through a third party.

Difference Between Assault and Battery

Assault and battery are two parts of the same whole. Under Virginia law, as used in Fredericksburg courts, Virginia Code Section 18.2-57 covers assault and battery. The English common law for assault and battery was that the battery element was an unwanted touching and the assault was the threat. In Virginia, someone can be found guilty of assault and battery based upon an assault or battery, or an assault and a battery. In most circumstances, assault and battery are charged together because they occur together.

If a person says or does something insulting or threatening and follows it up with a punch, or other act of violence, it would be both assault and battery. However, when someone pushes another person with no warning, there may not be an assault; but there is a battery. The person can commit either one of the elements or both and be in violation of Virginia Code Section 18.2-57.

Common Assault Charges

The most common ways that individuals find themselves charged with assault are through acts of violence such as simple fights, shoving matches, and things of that nature that tend to escalate from words to physical fighting. Straight assaults where someone makes a threat are less common but are still prosecuted on a regular basis.

The least common charge is when someone is only charged with battery. This can result from a random attack or a random push with an unwanted touching.

Following an Assault Arrest

When a person is arrested for assault and they are taken to a local adult detention center, or jail, to appear before a magistrate who then takes the initial bond information and determines whether the person is released or held, depending on the facts of the case.

The person may be issued a Virginia uniform summons. For a misdemeanor case, the officer has the option of issuing a Virginia uniform summons rather than making an arrest. For common assault case where the officer does not believe there is any future harm, they can issue a summons that tells the person when their court date is and have them sign an acknowledgment of that date.

Contacting an Attorney

A person should contact a Fredericksburg assault lawyer to discuss the charges as soon as possible. It is helpful to call an attorney to discuss the options or what the person should say to police after the assault occurred but before the person is contacted by police. In circumstances where the person does not have an opportunity to contact an attorney until they are arrested and taken before a magistrate, the opportunity to contact an attorney depends on the case.