Virginia Assault Lawyer

Virginia takes crimes like assault, battery, and physical violence with great seriousness. If you are charged with an assault case, whether it’s a smaller misdemeanor or a more serious felony, the fallout can be devastating. You might face jail time, fines, and a number of restrictions and challenges.

If you have been charged with an assault crime, you need a knowledgeable Virginia criminal defense lawyer like Michael A. Pignone in your corner. Assault cases don’t always present the true picture of what happened. Maybe you were defending yourself or someone else when another party got severely injured; maybe it was a case of mistaken identity.

At the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone, we know how the prosecution may sometimes inflate the criminal charges. With over 25+ years of experience, Michael Pignone knows Virginia’s laws inside out and has a formidable courtroom reputation for fighting for his clients’ rights. You have a strong chance to protect your freedom with him by your side. If you need a Manassas assault lawyer, a Fairfax assault lawyer, or a Prince William assault lawyer, call today at (571) 450-9689 to schedule your free consultation with our legal team.

What Qualifies as Assault in Virginia?

Assault refers to when someone threatens or tries to hurt another person, or makes them genuinely fear that they are about to be physically harmed. You don’t have to touch the person to be charged with assault. Just the fear of harm is enough. If you actually touch or hurt someone, that is called battery.

Think of it this way: if you raise your fist at someone and they flinch, thinking you are going to hit them, that is assault. If you actually punch them, that is battery.

Under Virginia law, there is a difference between threats and actual harm as well. Not every threat qualifies as assault in this state; it’s about how immediate and credible the threat is. Saying “I will get you one day” while sitting across a room isn’t assault. But cornering someone and saying “I am going to hurt you” is.

And then there is self-defense. Virginia allows people to defend themselves – but with a caveat. Your response must be proportionate. If someone tries to slap you and you retaliate with a weapon, the state might find your actions questionable or excessive, which might result in legal consequences for you. Also, if you start a fight or provoke someone into attacking you, you cannot then claim self-defense when you retaliate.

Types of Assault Charges in Virginia

As per Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-57, if you are found guilty of an assault or battery charge, you could face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. That said, the consequences can vary based on the situation.

For instance, if the alleged victim is a family member, the basic penalty might be different than if they were a stranger or certain persons. If the victim is a teacher, health care provider, police officer, or correctional officer, the consequences can be even more severe. 

Virginia specifies different types of assault charges, each with its own set of penalties:

Simple Assault (Assault and Battery)

This is the basic form of assault where someone threatens or tries to harm another person. If physical contact occurs, it is battery. This is generally a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia Code § 18.2-57.

Assault On a Law Enforcement Officer

Assaulting a police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel is a more severe offense. It is classified as a Class 6 felony under Virginia Code § 18.2-57(C) and can lead to more significant penalties.

Domestic Assault

When an assault occurs between family members or people in a romantic relationship, it’s considered domestic assault. A conviction can mean mandatory minimum jail sentences, especially for repeat offenders, as per Virginia Code § 18.2-57.2.

Hate Crime Assault

If an assault is committed based on a victim’s race, religion, color, or nationality, it’s considered a hate crime. This can elevate the charge and the associated penalties, as outlined in Virginia Code § 18.2-57(A).

Assault On School Personnel

Assaulting teachers, principals, or other school staff can result in enhanced penalties under Virginia Code § 18.2-57(B).

Sexual Assault

This includes a range of offenses: sexual battery, rape, forcible sodomy, object sexual penetration, attempted rape, aggravated sexual battery, sexual abuse of a child under 15 years old, etc. Each charge has a different statute and penalties, detailed under various sections of Virginia Code Title 18.2, Chapter 4.

Assault by Mob

When two or more people act together to cause malicious bodily injury to another, it’s considered an assault by mob. The penalties can be more severe, especially if the victim experiences severe injuries, as per Virginia Code § 18.2-42.

How Much Time Do You Get for Assault in VA?

There are different types of assault charges, which means there are different penalties. For a simple assault, you could be looking at up to 12 months in jail and a fine that doesn’t exceed $2,500. The penalties for assault and battery charges are the same, but the evidence required and the defense strategies might differ. But remember, the actual penalty can vary based on your situation, prior convictions, and the judge’s discretion.

Fines and jail times are different for other serious offenses:

Special Victims

Even a first-time offense against specific groups like teachers, healthcare providers, or law enforcement officers can translate to mandatory minimum jail terms. If you are found guilty, a minimum imprisonment of six months and a fine of up to $2,500 may be imposed.

Malicious Wounding

If someone intentionally causes serious bodily injury to maim, disfigure, or even kill, it’s known as malicious wounding. It could turn into felony charges if the victim suffered significant and permanent physical impairment – this is known as aggravated malicious wounding. It can land you with a prison sentence of anywhere between five to 20 years, not to mention a hefty fine that can go up to $100,000.

Unlawful wounding

Unlawful wounding is when the intent to harm is clear, but the resulting injury is not as grave. Classified as a Class 6 felony, the penalties can range from one to five years in prison. However, in some cases, the court might decide to treat it as a misdemeanor, which reduces the potential jail time and the fine.

Can Assault Charges Be Dropped in VA?

Once Virginia assault charges are filed, the decision to proceed with or drop the charges mainly rests with the Commonwealth’s Attorney (prosecutor), not the victim. Even if the alleged victim decides they no longer wish to pursue the case, the prosecutor can still move forward if they believe there is enough evidence to secure a conviction.

If the prosecution decides to dismiss charges against you, it could be for any of the following reasons:

  • Lack of strong evidence to support the case
  • The alleged victim’s unwillingness to testify or cooperate
  • Concerns about the credibility of witnesses or the victim
  • Acceptance of a plea deal for a lesser charge
  • Successful completion of a diversion program by first-time offenders

Defending Against an Assault Charge: Our Key Strategies

If you have been accused of assaulting someone, our team at the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone has an arsenal of defense strategies to try and tip the scales in your favor.


Everyone has the right to protect themselves. If we can show that you acted because you genuinely feared for your safety, it can change the narrative. If there is evidence or a witness who can vouch that the other person started the altercation, that could be a game-changer no matter how “solid” the prosecution’s evidence is.

Mistaken Identity

Sometimes, people get it wrong. They think they saw you, but did they really? Mistaken identity is a common defense in Virginia assault cases. We can use things like security footage, alibi witnesses, or even your phone’s location data to show you were not at the scene when the alleged incident took place.


There are times when physical harm or contact is agreed upon, maybe in a sport or a mutual scuffle. If we can demonstrate that there was a complete understanding between you and the alleged victim, the Virginia assault charges against you might not stick.

Questioning the Story

If someone is accusing you of bodily injury or battery charges – why are they doing it? Sometimes, there is more to the story. We can pinpoint inconsistencies in the accuser’s version or present important evidence that shows they might have a reason to falsely accuse you, be it jealousy, revenge, or something else.

The Evidence Available

The prosecution has to prove you did it. But what if their evidence is shaky? If there is a blurry video or a witness with a sketchy past, we can challenge its validity. Remember, they have to prove you are guilty; you don’t have to prove you are innocent.

Reach Out to the Leading Virginia Assault Lawyer

When you are fighting an assault charge, every decision you make can have lasting implications on your life, your career, and the people you hold dear. Let the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone make sure that a single incident does not define who you are or dictate the trajectory of your life.

Attorney Michael A. Pignone has spent almost three decades in the trenches, defending the rights of people just like you. His expertise is built on legal knowledge as well as a genuine understanding of the human element behind every case. He knows that every client he represents is someone’s son or daughter, someone’s friend or partner. And that understanding drives him to fight with unparalleled dedication.

To schedule your free consultation with a Virginia assault attorney who believes your future is worth fighting for, call us today at (571) 450-9689 or get in touch with us online.