While many Virginia residents think of murder when they contemplate the scope of violent crimes, the fact is that the category includes other offenses as well. Under the Code of Virginia, violent crimes can include both an assault and an assault and battery. In either case, the penalties if a conviction is obtained can be quite significant.

An assault is generally meant to mean a genuine threat of bodily harm that is coupled with an apparent ability to cause it. Accordingly, mere statements made in jest are usually not considered to be unlawful. Battery is the carrying out of that threat by an intentional harmful touching of another person without consent. Virginia law covers both acts, and the penalties can vary depending upon the status of the victim.

Under the relevant Virginia statute, a simple assault or a simple assault and battery is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, if the alleged perpetrator intentionally chose the victim on the basis of race, national origin or other protected attributes, the penalty will be a six-month jail sentence with a mandatory minimum of 30 days. If a victim chosen for one of these characteristics is injured, the crime is considered to be a Class 6 felony, although the term of confinement is the same.

Assaults against judges, law enforcement or correctional officers, elementary or secondary school employees or health care providers carry their own harsh penalties as well. As these statutes show, being convicted on an assault charge can have lasting repercussions. Someone who has been taken into custody for an alleged violent crime might want to meet with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Legal counsel may be able to come up with a strategy to counter the allegations.