A charge of malicious or unlawful wounding in Virginia is a serious crime in and of itself, but when that crime is committed against law enforcement or other specified persons the charges are more serious. Depending on the facts of your specific case, you face significant prison time and fines as the result of injury caused to these specially protected parties.
If you or someone you care for has been charged with malicious bodily injury to law enforcement or other protected parties, Virginia criminal defense attorney Bryan J. Jones can provide you with the advice you need to best protect your rights. Never assume that you will be found guilty just because you are charged with a crime.
Malicious Bodily Injury to Law Enforcement, Others
This charge is similar to the charge of Malicious or Unlawful Wounding found in Virginia Code § 18.2-51. If similar conduct is committed against a certain protected class, you will be instead be charged under Virginia Code § 18.2-51.1.
The Commonwealth must prove the specific elements of this charge, otherwise, you are not guilty of the crime.
Maliciously or Unlawfully
Maliciously means to act intentionally and without provocation. In Virginia, maliciousness is inferred from any use of a deadly weapon. A deadly weapon is any instrument that is likely to cause great bodily harm or death in the particular way it is used. A person acts unlawfully when he or she intentionally commits a wrongful act without excuse or justification.
Bodily injury includes nearly any injury to a person's body. This may include soft tissue injuries, broken bones, stabbing, shooting, or other harm. The harm can be caused by "any means" so the conduct can widely vary under this particular charge.
In the Performance of Public Duties
A Virginia prosecutor must prove that the offender knew or should have known that the protected party injured was performing his or her duties at the time. For example, if a person commits an attack against a person while they are off duty, they will not be subject to this charge but may be charged for Malicious or Unlawful Wounding instead.
The Commonwealth must specifically prove that you intended to commit the offense and that you intended to commit the offense to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill.
Penalties for Malicious Bodily Injury to Law Enforcement, Others
The penalties for the offense vary depending on whether the prosecutor is able to prove all of the elements of the charge, including whether the offense was committed maliciously or only unlawfully.
Penalties if the Offense was Committed Maliciously
For maliciously causing injury to a protected class of persons, the accused faces the following criminal penalties.
- Mandatory minimum of two years in prison.
- A possible maximum prison term of up to 30 years.
- A maximum possible fine of up to $100,000.
A charge for maliciously wounding a law enforcement officer or other protected person carries the potential for a very long prison sentence. You need an experienced defense attorney who can defend your case to reduce or dismiss your charges.
Penalties if the Offense was Committed Unlawfully
If the offense was not committed maliciously but was committed unlawfully, it is a Class 6 felony and the following criminal penalties apply.
- A mandatory minimum of one year in prison.
- A possible maximum prison term of up to five years.
- A maximum possible fine of up to $2,500.
While the penalties for the offense are much less than if the offense is committed maliciously, the charge is still serious. You have rights that deserve to be protected.
Defenses to Malicious Bodily Injury to Law Enforcement, Others in Virginia
While every case is different and different defenses may apply to your case, your Virginia criminal attorney can analyze the unique facts of your case to present the best defense. Some of the following could be used to prevent or reduce your conviction.
Present Reasonable Doubt
A Virginia prosecutor is required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each and every element of the charge. Your criminal defense attorney can show that there are inconsistencies in the prosecutor's case, creating doubt in the mind of the jury. Your attorney can also attempt to show that you were not the guilty party, or your conduct did not cause injury.
Challenge the Intentional Nature of the Act
If the act which caused injury was accidental, and not intentional, you cannot be found guilty of either malicious or unlawful wounding. Your defense attorney can present evidence which shows that you did not commit an intentional act, which may result in a reduction in charges or dismissal of the case against you. Your attorney can also challenge whether you intended to commit the act to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill. If you did not, you are not guilty of either offense.
Prove that the Injured Person was Not Acting in their Official Capacity
If a police officer, firefighter, or other protected party was not acting in the course of his or her employment, or within his or her official duties, you are not guilty of this crime. Instead, you may be able to face lesser charges for the lesser included offense of Malicious or Unlawful Wounding.
Present an Affirmative Defense
To be convicted of the crime, your conduct must be "unlawful." Even if you meet the elements of the offense, if you committed the act with legal justification or excuse, you can be acquitted of the crime. This includes a self-defense claim or a claim of defense of others.
Consult Your Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
A felony conviction for malicious bodily injury to law enforcement, others has serious consequences, including substantial prison time. An experienced Virginia attorney knows the law and will use it to defend your case. Even if the police and prosecutor treat you like you are guilty, you still have legal rights and defenses.
Contact Virginia criminal defense attorney Bryan J. Jones to fight for your constitutional rights throughout the criminal process. He represents clients in Charlottesville, Albemarle, and surrounding counties.