Malicious wounding is a type of assault and battery charge. According to Virginia Code § 18.2-51, malicious wounding occurs if a person maliciously stabs, cuts, shoots, or wounds someone else or causes bodily injury by any means with the intent to disfigure, disable, kill, or maim. It’s a serious criminal offense with harsh penalties under state law.
Malicious Wounding Charges in Virginia
There are multiple types of malicious wounding charges a person could face in Virginia. A case involving malicious wounding must include malice and intent. The charge could decrease to unlawful wounding if malice did not exist while committing the offense.
Aggravated malicious wounding occurs if a person:
- Maliciously wounds, shoots, cuts, or stabs another person or causes bodily injury by any means;
- Intends to disable, maim, kill, or disfigure; and
- The victim suffers a severe injury, causing significant and permanent physical impairment.
When Does Assault and Battery Become Malicious Wounding?
Although used interchangeably, assault and battery are two separate crimes. Assault occurs when a person attempts to commit battery or causes a reasonable fear of injury in another person. Battery is the unlawful touching of someone else in a harmful or offensive manner.
Two essential elements must exist to prove a malicious wounding charge:
- The defendant maliciously caused bodily injury; and
- Intended to disfigure, kill, maim, or disable the victim.
Malice is the ill will to commit a wrongful and intentional act without legal justification. Even if the victim sustained a minor injury, a malicious wounding charge could apply. There doesn’t need to be a serious injury, but the prosecutor must prove the defendant intended to cause bodily harm.
Additionally, the statute doesn’t define whether the defendant must have used a weapon while committing the offense. The law states “by any means,” which could involve a person using their bare hands to cause bodily harm. If you were involved in a physical altercation with someone and punched them with the intent to kill, maim, disfigure, or disable them, you could face a malicious wounding charge.
What Are the Penalties for a Conviction?
Sentencing for Virginia crimes depends on various factors, such as the type of offense, severity, and criminal history of the defendant. Each offense falls under a different category and further splits into multiple classes. Each class has sentencing guidelines the judge can use to determine the penalty for a conviction.
Malicious wounding is a Class 3 felony. The guideline for a prison term is between five and twenty years. Additionally, the convicted individual could face up to a $100,000 fine.
Unlawful wounding is considered a Class 6 felony, punishable by one to five years in prison and a maximum of a $2,500 fine.
An aggravated malicious conviction is significantly more severe. It is a Class 2 felony and can result in up to a $100,000 fine and twenty years to life in prison.
What Are Possible Defenses?
It can be terrifying to face a malicious wounding charge. It can alter your entire life and lead to long-term consequences. You could lose your job, family, and reputation. Even if you pay your debt to society and serve your sentence, you will likely encounter challenges, such as finding a place to live or work.
It’s crucial to hire a defense lawyer immediately. Your lawyer can explore the available options to determine the appropriate defense strategy. The most common defenses to malicious wounding charges include:
- Violation of a Constitutional right
- Duress or coercion
- Defense of another person or property
How Bain Sheldon Could Help
Since 2006, the law office of Bain Sheldon has represented clients in criminal cases in Richmond and throughout Virginia. We can provide an aggressive defense against the charge you face and attempt to get them dropped or reduced. Our legal team will be in your corner to advocate for your rights and fight for your future.
If you were arrested or charged with malicious wounding, call Bain Sheldon at (804) 282-8625 right now for a free and confidential consultation.