Malicious wounding is when a person intentionally causes injuries to another to kill or injure another individual severely. Virginia has set out stringent laws concerning assault, depending on how severe the crime is. Malicious wounding is one of the gravest serious assault charges prosecuted as a third-class felony. If one is found guilty of maliciously wounding another person, the penalties are extremely severe. A conviction on malicious wounding will get your life turned upside down, and your loved ones greatly affected.
If you are charged with malicious wounding or a loved one is, you must get in touch with a criminal attorney immediately. Call us today at Virginia Criminal Attorney, and we shall tirelessly work on your defense to ensure you get the best representation.
Overview of Malicious Wounding Laws
According to Virginia law, a person commits a malicious wounding crime when they use malice to inflict injuries on another person. This is done to maim, kill, disfigure, or disable another. When a person intentionally commits a wrongful act, it is considered malicious. Depending on the circumstances of the particular case, intention to kill and malice can be inferred.
For instance, if you found someone touching your car innocently and you pounced on him with kicks and blows. This under the law can be said the person is acting maliciously. Should the victim suffer severe injuries like broken bones, the court of law will consider that your actions were not just to injure, but you intended to kill. The law on malicious wounding is found under Code 18.2-51.1
According to the law, malice is evidenced if the defendant did the act with a conscious mind, planned, and intentionally did the cruel act with no great provocation. The law further implies the use of malice when a person willfully commits brutal acts against another person even in the spur of the moment. The deliberate use of deadly weapons to wound another person with ill intentions is also considered as malicious wounding.
When a malicious case is brought to court, the court will make considerations of malice against the heat of passion. When a person commits an act in the heat of passion, the malicious inference is excluded. In this case, it is argued that the defendant faced provocation that caused reasonable fear causing him or her to act on impulse and without any reflection consciously. The court believes that when a person acts in the heat of passion, they are temporarily rendered deaf to reason. This is only considered if there is a clear indication of there being a provocation. It was the reason that led to intense passion.
To determine if the defendant acted in the heat of passion, the court considers the type and level of provocation and the way the defendant tried to resist it. If the defendant had time to calm down and reflect, the crime is not that of the heat of passion. The wounding that results is considered as malicious wounding charged as a third-class felony.
It is important to note that the use of words or insults is not considered enough provocation to injure or kill another person.
For a person to be convicted of malicious wounding, the prosecution must show that the defendant cut, stabbed, or injured the other person to cause bodily harm to them or death. To be found guilty, the defendant must also have the intention to hurt the other person permanently. According to Virginia laws, a wound is defined as when the skin is broken, and one can see blood during an altercation. An injury, on the other hand, is defined as damage to the internal or injury to the organs.
There is no requirement for how severe the injury should be, but as long as there was intent to cause severe injuries is what must be proven in court. The violation of this law is based on the intentions of the defendant. It is on when they inflicted harm on the victim but not on how severe they were.
If the wound was severe, caused permanent disfiguring or injuries, the person will not be accused of just malicious wounding but of aggravated malicious wounding. It is a more serious felony that is classified as a second class felony whose penalties are more severe. If one is found guilty of aggravated wounding with malicious intent, they face a minimum of 20 years in prison to life imprisonment. In addition to this severe penalty, the defendant is also expected to pay a fine of up to $100,000.
When the law says causing malicious injuries by any means, it means merely using any method. For instance, if the defendant has a pit bull or a fierce dog, and he or she unleashes it upon the victim to cause injuries. Ordinarily, if you hurt a person by hitting them with a blow of bare fists, it may not be considered as intent to maim the victim. However, if the defendant still uses bare fists, but the violence or assault is carried out so brutally, it may be presumed that he or she had the intent to kill.
The court, in such cases, considers the method used to injure the victim and how the injuries were inflicted. This is usually to determine if there was intent to maim, disable, disfigure, or kill the victim.
The intent, in this case, can be assumed from the actions or words of the defendant. The final deed from the defendant can also infer the intention. The law presumes that both the necessary and natural consequences of a deed were intentionally carried out by the defendant when he or she committed the act.
The definition of malice is the ill will a person has to do something. It is also the wrongful intention to act illegally without any justification. Malice, in most cases, is proven by circumstantial facts. If the defendant attacks another person without what the court considers enough provocation, then it is causing injuries maliciously. The victim will argue that they were unaware of the attack and were unable to defend themselves. They will further claim the defendant struck them in parts of their body that are vulnerable like the head.
In case the defendant struck the victim following an argument, and the victim was defenseless, but the defendant continued taunting them and hitting them, he did so maliciously. If the attack results in bodily injuries, then he is likely to face malicious wounding charges.
Can Self-defense Become Malicious Wounding?
Self-defense is also considered as an affirmative defense. It means that if a person is accused, they must produce enough evidence to bring doubt to the accusations. The law perceives self-defense as a law of necessity. A person must reasonably be afraid of getting injuries on themselves or death from his victim. According to the law, if the defendant has reason to believe that danger does exist, he or she has the right to protect themselves. In so doing, the defendant may end up injuring the victim.
The law also recognizes that a defendant can act when he or she perceives a reasonable existence of danger. The appearance of risk is often based on the interpretation of the defendant at the point when they acted. If a person was acting to defend themselves from imminent danger, and as a result, they injured the victim, they cannot be charged with malicious wounding. However, the defendant must prove that this was the case, and if the court is not convinced of their argument, he or she faces malicious wounding charges.
Malicious Wounding of Protected Workers
In Virginia, when a person commits unlawful or malicious wounding against individuals considered to be protected workers, the person receives more severe penalties. Protected employees are those that are engaged to perform public service or duties such as police officers and firefighters. Others include emergency medical services personnel as well as search and rescue personnel. When a person maliciously attacks such individuals with knowledge or reason to know who they are, their punishment is more severe. The law on malicious wounding of protected employees is found under Code 18.2-51.1.
Malicious Wounding by Mob
According to code 18.2-41, any or every individual in a mob that unlawfully and maliciously stabs, shoots, or cuts a person to wound them is guilty of malicious wounding. If they intend to cause injuries to maim, disfigure, or disable the person, they will be charged with third-class felony violations. If the person or persons are found guilty, the penalties for these charges are severe, as will be discussed later.
Malicious wounding by the mob is found under code 18.2-41, and it is different from ordinary malicious wounding found under section 18.2-51. According to code 18.2-41, the prosecution does not have to prove intention or malice. This situation is because the crime is defined as unlawful and malicious to wound any person. This argument holds especially when the aim is to disfigure, kill, or maim the victim. According to this code, the only proof required is the illegal injuring or wounding.
A wounding by a mob conviction is only issued if there is evidence establishing the defendant belonged to the group that caused the wounding. Additionally, the evidence must clearly show that the mob caused the injuries on the victim. It must also show that the actions by the crowd were malicious and aimed at disfiguring, killing, or maiming the victim.
It is possible for a lawful gathering of people to turn into a mob if they adopt intent to commit a crime or an act of violence that is unlawful. The circumstances, however, determine if the gathering was turned into a mob. There is no requirement for or words needed to bring an agreement that affects changes in the intentions or purposes of a group to make it a mob. Events and circumstances that are emotionally charged may suddenly change the focus of a group to be that of a common objective. It means that there may be no call for joint forces, but it just happens.
Due to the irrational and impulsive forces that may be responsible for transforming peaceful gatherings, the cases brought against them are evaluated on a case by case merit. The law considers every individual in the mob to be criminally culpable regardless of if the person actively engaged or encouraged the act. The liability of the individual is pegged on the collective actions of the group.
Other Offenses that can lead to Malicious Wounding Charges
Many incidences can result in causing malicious injuries both physically or internally to a person. These various incidents can lead to a person being prosecuted with malicious wounding, charges that carry very severe penalties. Some of these incidences will include:
Fire, Acid or Explosion
When a person unlawfully or maliciously causes injuries to another by the use of fire, acid, biological weapons, explosions, or radioactive weapons, they will face severe punishment. When it is proven, the intention was to harm others and not accidental, causing injuries with malicious intent charges will be brought forward.
Intentionally cutting off air or the flow of blood from a victim by choking them can result in injuries. If a defendant is accused of this, the charges can fall under, causing injuries maliciously that would result in harsh penalties.
Use of Firearm
If a defendant is accused of using a firearm or a dangerous weapon to inflict injuries upon the victim, it is a grave offense. Sometimes the defendant may use the gun to attempt to cause harm to the victim. In this case, maliciously, the person is also charged with malicious wounding.
Penalties for Malicious Wounding
As earlier stated, malicious wounding in Virginia is a third-class felony. If one is found guilty and convicted of this crime, the penalties are very severe. One is likely to face jail time of between five and twenty years. In addition to imprisonment, a fine not exceeding $100,000 is also charged with the defendant.
If the malicious wounding was against protected workers, the punishment is even more severe. The defendant, if convicted, will face between five and thirty years in prison. Additionally, the defendant will also be expected to pay a fine of not more than $100,000. Regardless of the sentencing, the law assumes the defendant to serve a minimum of two years in jail.
If the defendant caused malicious injuries by the use of acid, explosion, or fire, or by the use of radioactive or biological weapons, the punishment would be imprisonment of five to thirty years.
Use of a firearm to commit or try to commit this crime, the defendant will be sentenced to three years of prison time if the offense is a first time one. A repeat offense and other subsequent ones get the defendant a five-year prison sentence.
What the Prosecution Must Prove
If a person is accused of malicious wounding, for a conviction to happen, a prosecutor must prove the existence of malice and intent. The prosecutor has the burden to prove the person indeed is the one that committed the act, and they undertook it with malicious intent to cause injury to the victim. The prosecutor must prove that the act was not an accident or was not in self-defense for a person to be found guilty and convicted of the crime.
Possible Legal Defenses
Charges of malicious wounding carry very severe penalties. If one faces these charges, they should immediately conduct a criminal defense attorney to prepare their defense. Once your lawyer takes up the case, he/she will immediately demand the evidence the prosecution has to analyze it. It is done to establish areas that are not consistent to raise a reasonable doubt.
Your lawyer will further investigate the circumstances around the incident and interview any witnesses available. In doing so, the notion that the defendant acted with malice and had the intention to cause harm will be dispelled. There are many possible defense strategies your lawyer can use. Some of these are:
- Mistaken identity – the victim is confused and accused you wrongly. There could be a possibility that you are not the person that wounded them.
- There was no malice – that the defendant did not attack the victim maliciously, but the victim provoked them.
- There was no intent – when the act happened, the defendant had no plan or intention to cause harm to the victim.
- The injuries were an accident – the defendant caused the harm to the victim as an accident. There was no argument or provocation, but an accident happened.
- Self Defense – the injuries occurred as an act of self-defense. The defendant had reason to feel their lives were in danger, and he or she reacted in the heat of the moment to defend themselves.
- False Accusations – the victim is falsely accusing the defendant because he or she is looking for revenge.
Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Charges on malicious wounding in Virginia are severe, and they attract very harsh penalties. If one is found guilty, they are likely to be jailed for a long time. It can result in one losing their family, their livelihoods in addition to their freedom. An accusation of malicious wounding cannot be taken lightly. If you face these charges or a loved one does, get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer urgently. Get in touch with us at Virginia Criminal Attorney, and we will start your defense immediately. Call us today at 703-718-5533, and we will gladly make an appointment to discuss your case.