Strangulation prosecutions in Virginia – Fairfax assault lawyer
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Strangulation convictions do not require extreme choking, says Fairfax criminal lawyer
Virginia’s strangulation statute provides that: “Any person who … impedes the blood circulation or respiration of another person by knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully applying pressure to the neck of such person resulting in the wounding or bodily injury of such person is guilty of strangulation, a Class 6 felony.” Va. Code § 18.2-51.6.
The Virginia Supreme Court has stated that bodily injury” in the strangling statute “’is any bodily injury whatsoever and includes an act of damage or harm or hurt that relates to the body; is an impairment of a function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty; or is an act of impairment of a physical condition.’” Wandemberg v. Virginia, ___ Va. App. ___ (April 2, 2019) (quoting Ricks v. Commonwealth, 290 Va. 470 (2015),)
Strangulation of a family or household member presumes no bond
A Virginia charge of strangling a family or household member presumes no bail. Va. Code § 19.2-120(B)(14). My arguments to counter such a presumption include the unconstitutional disparity between presuming no bond for domestic strangling but not for non-domestic strangulation, on top of arguing that with strangulation constituting the least serious felony category in Virginia, the presumption of no bond often can be overcome.
The boundary between strangulation and non-strangulation
Today, the Virginia Court of Appeals illustrated the boundary between strangulation and non-strangulation as follows: “While a brief restriction of a victim’s ability to breathe standing alone may not be enough to constitute a bodily injury, the record reflects that the victim here also suffered abrasions around her neck.” Wandemberg.
When a stroke results from deprivation of oxygen
Today, as well, the Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed a strangulation conviction where the medical examiner testified that when a portion of the brain is deprived of oxygen “for a portion of time, and then blood flow is returned, two distinct injuries can be seen,” those being stroke damage and repercussion injury. Hudson v. Virginia, Record No. 0569-18-2 (Va. App., April 2, 2019) (unpublished). A strangulation defendant wants to consider calling his or her own medical expert to counter such damning testimony.
As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I warn people that a simple assault is a jailable misdemeanor, and touching another person’s neck during an assault risks a felony strangulation prosecution and conviction.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against assault, felony, misdemeanor, DUI, drug and marijuana prosecutions To discuss your case in confidence with Jon Katz, please call his staff at 703-383-1100 to schedule a consultation.