Aggressive Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyers Serving Clients Throughout Northern Virginia
It used to be that most instances of physical violence were charged as simple assault or assault and battery; however, that changed in 2012 when Virginia lawmakers passed the state’s first strangulation law. Since then, thousands of people have been charged and convicted of strangulation, which, unlike assault and battery, is considered a felony offense – even for a first-time offender. At Robinson Law, PLLC, our Fairfax criminal defense lawyers have specific experience representing clients charged with strangulation and other violent crimes. Understanding that these cases often involve complex, strained relationships, we take a unique, client-centered approach to every case we handle to ensure we get to the bottom of what’s really going on.
How Is Strangulation Defined Under Virginia Law?
Under Virginia Code §18.2-51.6, the offense of strangulation prohibits someone from causing another person to experience bodily injury by applying pressure to their neck, thereby impeding their breathing or blood flow. While strangulation often comes up in the context of domestic violence, there is no requirement that the parties knew each other.
Because strangulation is a more specific version of assault and battery, sometimes a defendant will successfully challenge the strangulation offense but end up with a conviction for assault and battery. For example, if the prosecution proves that you 1.) touched another person, 2.) without legal justification, and 3.) did so in an “angry, rude, insulting, or vengeful manner” but can’t prove strangulation, the judge or jury could convict you of assault and battery.
Defenses To Strangulation Charges
There are various defenses that may apply in a strangulation case. For example, one of the most common defenses is challenging the sufficiency of the government’s evidence. To prove you guilty of strangulation, the government must prove each of the following:
- You applied force to another’s neck without their consent
- The force you applied restricted the other person’s airflow or blood flow
- Your actions caused the other person to suffer bodily injury
- You acted knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully
If the prosecution’s evidence does not prove each of the following beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge or jury cannot find you guilty. Thus, a common defense is to challenge the “bodily injury” element of the offense because this is often difficult to prove.
However, depending on the situation, successfully negating the bodily injury element could still mean that the judge or jury could find you guilty of assault and battery, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Other defenses to strangulation include:
- The alleged victim made up the allegations against you
- Law enforcement officers violated your rights in obtaining physical evidence or a statement from you
- The alleged victim misidentified you as the person who assaulted them
What Are The Penalties For Strangulation?
Strangulation is a Class 6 felony, which carries a possible punishment of either up to 12 months in jail or up to five years in state prison as well as a fine of up to $2,500. If you beat a strangulation charge but are convicted of the lesser offense of assault and battery, you’ll end up with a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum of 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Are You Facing Strangulation Charges In Fairfax County?
If you or a loved one was recently arrested and charged with strangulation or any other crime of domestic violence, reach out to the dedicated Fairfax criminal defense attorneys at Robinson Law, PLLC, to immediately get started working on your defense. At Robinson Law, PLLC, we have handled countless cases on behalf of our clients, including harassment, stalking, violations of protective orders and more. We recognize that these cases, while extremely serious, are often much more complicated than the police reports suggest, and we’re committed to upholding your presumption of innocence so you can move on with your life once the case is over. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation today, call 703-542-3616. You can also connect with us through our online contact form. We proudly represent clients in Fairfax, Loudoun, Stafford counties and Suffolk, as well as throughout northern Virginia.