You could avoid maximum sentencing for malicious or unlawful injury.
Disputes could get out of hand, especially if those involved are intoxicated or arguing over family or relationship issues. Arguments that become physical can quickly spiral out of control.
A malicious, unlawful wounding charge could mean years in prison, not to mention the roadblocks you’ll face as a convicted felon. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you obtain the most favorable outcome.
What Is Malicious and Unlawful Wounding?
Malicious wounding in Virginia is shooting, stabbing, cutting, wounding, or causing someone bodily injury with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill. A wound is a breaking of the skin, or underlying flesh, caused by a violent act.
- Malicious wounding requires malice – a state of mind in which you intend to cause harm or are so reckless that you don’t care if you cause harm.
- You might be charged with unlawful wounding if you acted without malice.
- When unlawful wounding causes permanent or significant impairment, the offense may increase to aggravated malicious wounding.
- All wounding offenses are felonies.
Virginia has additional statutes on malicious wounding.
Penalties for Malicious and Unlawful Wounding
If convicted of a wounding crime, you would have a permanent criminal record as a violent offender, a significant prison sentence, and as much as $100,000 in fines.
The crime of malicious wounding could be reduced to unlawful or elevated to aggravated malicious wounding, depending on the evidence.
Conviction for malicious and unlawful wounding:
- Class 3 felony
- Five to 20 years in prison
- Maximum fine of $100,000
Conviction for unlawful wounding without malice:
- Class 6 felony
- One to five years in prison
- The judge or jury can decide that you should be confined for no more than 12 months plus fined no more than $2,500, either or both
It is in your best interest to prove that you acted without malice to receive the lesser sentence.
Malicious Wounding of Public Safety Officials
Virginia Code §18.2-51.1 focuses on public safety officials as victims while performing their public duties. A conviction under this statute is a Class 3 Felony with a mandatory term of two years with a maximum of 30 years in prison. If convicted without malice, the minimum required term is one year in prison in addition to other penalties.
Virginia recognizes public safety officials as:
- Law enforcement officers
- Search and rescue personnel
- Emergency medical services personnel
Aggravated Malicious Wounding
Aggravated malicious wounding, under Virginia Code §18.2-51.2 is a Class 2 felony and may be charged if the victim is:
- Permanently or significantly impaired
- A pregnant woman who’s severely injured and permanently or significantly impaired or the pregnancy ends involuntarily
The penalty for a Class 2 felony is 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Malicious Wounding by a Mob
Under Virginia Code §18.2-41, “any and every person composing a mob” that maliciously or unlawfully wounds is charged with a Class 3 felony.
How to Reduce or Defeat a Malicious or Unlawful Wounding Charge
The first step in potentially reducing or defeating a malicious or unlawful wounding charge begins with you.
You are presumed innocent even if you are arrested or charged with a crime. Equally important, you have the right to remain silent until you speak with an attorney.
Don’t Speak to Police
In our experience as criminal defense lawyers, individuals who try to explain or justify their actions to the police might not have the best outcome. Even if you believe you are in the right, talking to officers without an attorney could be harmful to your defense.
Instead of potentially incriminating yourself, politely tell the police that you will not answer questions until you have an attorney by your side. Then, call Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico.
Potential Defenses to Reduce or Defeat Charges
Defenses that may help you include factual disputes:
- You did not commit the crime. You have an alibi, and this is a case of mistaken identity
- The victim was not shot, stabbed, cut, wounded, injured, permanently or significantly impaired.
- The public safety officer was not performing public duties at the time.
- The female victim was not pregnant at the time, and if she was, the end of her pregnancy was not involuntary.
- You were not part of a mob.
The prosecution may not carry the burden of proving your intent. This may result in charges being dismissed or reduced, making the penalties much less severe. You could dispute that you wanted to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill another person or were so reckless that you didn’t care if you harmed someone.
A defense could be you acted to defend yourself against the other person who was the aggressor.
There could also be procedural, legal, or constitutional defenses. Police may have improperly stopped you, searched your vehicle or home, or failed to read your Miranda rights. Procedural errors may result in evidence being excluded from trial, reduced, or dismissed charges.
Contact Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico Now
The consequences of a malicious or unlawful wounding charge are harsh and can negatively impact your freedom, career, and future. At Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico, our criminal defense lawyers have the experience and skills to craft an effective defense.
An effective lawyer may be the difference between getting the charges dismissed, being acquitted, or negotiating an outcome that doesn’t define the rest of your life.