Virginia unlawful wounding addressed by Fairfax criminal lawyer
Virginia unlawful wounding charges call for a full defense, says Fairfax criminal lawyer
Virginia unlawful wounding charges are damning if a conviction results. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I commit to memory that the commonwealth’s unlawful wounding statute provides that: “If any person maliciously shoot, stab, cut, or wound any person or by any means cause him bodily injury, with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill, he shall, except where it is otherwise provided, be guilty of a Class 3 felony. If such act be done unlawfully but not maliciously, with the intent aforesaid, the offender shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.” Virginia Codec § 18.2-51
If a criminal defendant gets into a physical altercation that causes worse than black and blue marks, the risk arises that the matter will be prosecuted not as a simple assault charge, but as an unlawful wounding charge, or worse.
Virginia unlawful wounding prosecutions ordinarily rest on the discretion of the fact finder in a criminal trial, whether judge or jury
This week, the Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed a Virginia unlawful wounding conviction, where the alleged victim portrayed an out of control defendant dragging her with the defendant’s car, and the defendant claimed to have driven away from repeated assaults from the complainant. Ward v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1419-21-1 (Va. App., July 25, 2022) (unpublished). The complainant’s version of events is that she arranged to check Ward’s car for the complainant’s missing identification and bank cards, which the complainant surmised had fallen outside her wallet into Ward’s car. The complainant found her ID in Ward’s hand, and tried to seize it. Instead, Ward drove away, dragging the complainant for around twenty feet. Ward testified to a much different scenario, claiming that the complainant kept hitting Ward on the back of the head, and then Ward drove away.
Am I ever safe against Virginia criminal law to have a physical altercation with another?
Anytime you have a physical altercation with another person, you risk being charged with violating the Virginia unlawful wounding law (if the injuries are serious enough) or at least assault. You can testify until you are blue in the face (in the event you waive your right to remain silent as a criminal defendant) that you are innocent, but that ultimate decision of guilt or innocence is made by the judge if this is a bench trial, or else the jury.
Acting maliciously risks an even harsher conviction and sentence
Acting maliciously risks an even harsher Virginia criminal law conviction and sentence. Whereas unlawful wounding without malice is a Class 6 felony (carrying up to five years in prison if convicted), the addition of malice converts any such conviction to a Class 3 felony, carrying five to twenty years of incarceration.
How do I walk away from a physical altercation without risking future assault and losing face?
Many people do not walk away from a potential physical altercation — nor diffuse the situation — out of fear that doing anything other than acting with the goal to win a fight will risk future assaults. However, walking away does not need to be seen as throwing in the towel, rather than as taking charge about how and when you will proceed to address the other person’s actual or perceived trespass against you. Unfortunately, many judges too often make a clearly wrong pronouncement of the law.
Can I afford to represent myself in court against a Virginia unlawful wounding or simple assault charge?
To represent yourself in Virginia criminal court puts you in over your head in dealing with the judge, police witnesses, and prosecutor. The fee to hire a lawyer may be significant, but a good outcome means a good return on your investment in an attorney.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz’ focuses nearly 100 percent of his law practice defending against Virginia DUI and criminal charges. Learn the positive difference that Jon Katz can make for your defense, by calling rw-me show=”phone1″] for your free in-person consultation about your court-pending case.