A charge of aggravated malicious wounding is an extremely serious criminal offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you maliciously harm a person and cause permanent and significant physical impairment, you face long prison sentences and incredibly high fines. You even face the possibility of life in prison.
If you or someone you care for has been charged with aggravated malicious wounding in Virginia, 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.
Aggravated Malicious Wounding
Virginia Code § 18.2-51.2 sets forth the definition of aggravated malicious wounding. To prove the offense of aggravated malicious wounding, the Virginia prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the offender unlawfully:
- Cut, or
another person causing injury, with the intent to:
- Disable, or
For the aggravated charge to apply, which makes this different than Malicious or Unlawful Wounding, the offender must cause:
- Severe injury, and
- Permanent and substantial physical impairment.
Maliciously means to act intentionally and without provocation. This can include from such states of mind including:
- Hatred; or
In Virginia, maliciousness can be inferred from the 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.
Intent to Maim, Disable, Disfigure, or Kill
The offender must have the intent to produce a permanent condition by either maiming, disabling, disfiguring or killing to satisfy the elements of the charge. Accidental conduct is not sufficient to meet the prosecutor's burden to prove the elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
Cause Severe Injury and Permanent and Significant Physical Impairment
To be convicted, the severe injury and permanent and significant physical impairment must actually occur. Physical impairment must also be significant, and not minor to qualify for this particular offense. If the injury suffered does not meet this particular definition, a lesser crime may be a more appropriate charge.
Aggravated Malicious Wounding of a Pregnant Woman
Virginia Code § 18.2-51.2(B) sets forth a specific form of aggravated malicious wounding. The offender can be convicted if he or she wounds a pregnant woman with intent to:
- Kill, or
- Cause involuntary termination of the pregnancy
and if the victim is severely injured and suffers permanent and significant physical impairment.
The involuntary termination of a woman's pregnancy is, in and of itself, a severe injury and a permanent and significant physical impairment. This means that if a pregnancy is terminated, but the woman suffers no other injury, the offender can still be charged under this law.
The offender can be convicted under this provision if he or she intended to cause the involuntary termination of the pregnancy, but failed, so long as the victim is severely injured in another way.
Penalties for Aggravated Malicious Wounding
If you are convicted of malicious wounding, you are convicted of a Class 2 felony. As a result, you face the following penalties:
- 20 years in state prison up to a possible life term;
- Maximum possible fine of up to $100,000.
The amount of time you face in prison and the fine an offender faces will depend on the facts of the individual case. In most cases, the more severe the harm the more severe the punishment. It may also be determined by the reasons for the attack, and any possible justifications or excuse for the behavior, if any.
Difference Between Attempted Murder and Aggravated Malicious Wounding
The charge of attempted murder can be similar to the charge of aggravated malicious wounding. The same acts can be the reason for either charge. To be charged with aggravated malicious wounding, the offender must actually cause the harm described in the law. However, no injury is required under the charge of attempted murder so long as the offender intended to kill the victim.
In fact, aggravated malicious wounding is punished more severely than attempted murder, which carries up to 10 years in prison.
Defenses to Aggravated Malicious Wounding Charges 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 Element of the Charge
If the act which caused injury was accidental, and not intentional, you cannot be found guilty of the offense. 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 the charge.
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.
Challenge the Severity and Permanency of the Injuries
If the alleged "victim" did not suffer injuries which were both severe and permanent and substantial physical impairment, you are not guilty of this particular offense. Your defense attorney can prove to the jury that the injuries do not meet that definition. You may be able to lessen the charge against you and prevent the worst of the possible penalties.
Consult Your Virginia Defense Attorney
A felony conviction for aggravated malicious wounding has serious consequences, including 20 years in prison up to life. 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.