What is considered Malicious Wounding in Virginia?
Malicious Wounding in Virginia is often a catch-all charge that covers a wide array of acts. It can apply to many serious criminal acts–which involve serious injury–and law enforcement can charge it for far less serious offenses–such as a school-yard fight. Regardless of the underlying facts, it is a serious felony offense that must be handled carefully in Virginia. Here are some of the basics on the criminal offense in Virginia.
If any person maliciously shoot, stab, cut, or wound any person or by any means cause him bodily injury, with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill, he shall, except where it is otherwise provided, be guilty of a Class 3 Felony. If such act be done unlawfully but not maliciously, with the intent aforesaid, the offender shall be guilty of a Class 6 Felony.Va. Code § 18.2-51
Penalty: A Malicious Wounding conviction is a Class 3 Felony, which is punishable by imprisonment between 5-20 years and a $100,000 fine.
In order to prove Malicious Wounding, the Commonwealth has to prove that the accused maliciously caused bodily injury AND did it with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill. Meaning, you have to intent permanent harm.
While shooting, stabbing, or cutting someone can be straight forward to understand, the statute doesn’t clarify what it means when it says “by any means” By any means could be something as simple as a fist fight. Courts look to the extent of the injuries or the extent of violence to determine if this was done to cause permanent injury.
What is the difference between Unlawful Wounding and Malicious Wounding?
Malicious wounding requires the presence of malice. Courts will look at all surrounding circumstances to determine whether a Defendant acted with Malice. Malice can also be shown when the Defendant acted with a purposeful and deliberate mind without any or without great provocation. Words by themselves are not sufficient to prove provocation. In addition, in some cases malice can be inferred from the use of a deadly weapon such as a gun.
Unlawful wounding is the opposite. It is wounding someone with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill but without malice or without a purposeful and deliberate mind. Acts done in the “heat of passion” are not found to be done with malice. Typically, in heat of passion cases the victim does something to provoke the defendant that produces fear or rage and causes a person to act on impulse—presuming a reasonable person would act in such a way.
Penalty: An Unlawful Wounding conviction is a Class 6 Felony, which is punishable by imprisonment for 1-5 years and a $2,500 fine.
When does a Malicious Wounding become an Aggravated Malicious Wounding?
The only difference between a malicious wounding and an aggravated malicious wounding is the severity of the resulting injuries to the victim. A person can be charged with aggravated malicious wounding, under the same proof requirements for a general malicious wounding charge, if the victim is severely injured and caused to suffer permanent and significant physical impairment.
Penalty: An aggravated malicious wounding conviction is a Class 2 felony, which is punishable by imprisonment for life or for any term not less than 20 years and/or a fine of not more than $100,000.
A common example of aggravated malicious wounding, and one that is specifically mentioned in the statute is wounding of pregnant women. The statute includes, but is not limited to, causing the involuntary termination of her pregnancy, if the woman is severely injured and suffers from permanent or significant impairment. An intent to cause involuntary termination of her pregnancy will be adequate to prove malice.
Malicious Wounding of a Police Officer: Va. Code. § 18.2-51.1
If any person maliciously causes bodily injury to another by any means including the means set out in 18.2-52, with intent to maim, disfigure, disable or kill, and knowing or having reason to know that such other person is a law-enforcement officer, as defined hereinafter, firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel, engaged in the performance of his public duties as a law-enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel, such person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment of not less 5 years nor more than 30 years and a fine of not more than $100,000. Upon conviction, the sentence of such person shall include a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of two years.
If any person unlawfully causes bodily injury to any law enforcement personnel, he is guilty of a Class 6 Felony, and upon conviction, the sentence of such person shall include a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one year.Va. Code. 18.2-51.1
Malicious Wounding by Mob: Va. Code § 18.2-41
Any and every person composing a mob which shall maliciously or unlawfully shoot, stab, cut or wound any person, or by any means cause him bodily injury with intent to maim, disable, disfigure or kill him, shall be guilty of a Class 3 Felony. This felony is punishable by up to 5-20 years in prison, 5 of which are mandatory and a fine of up to $100,000.Va. Code. § 18.2-41
To prove malicious wounding by mob, the Commonwealth has to prove that the Defendant was a member of a group or mob, that the mob caused bodily injury, and that the mob acted with malicious or unlawful intent.
Every person involved in the mob is criminally liable even if you did not actively encourage, aid, or participated in the act. Every member has individual liability even though it was a group act.
On any indictment for maliciously shooting, stabbing, cutting or wounding a person or by any means causing him bodily injury, with intent to maim, disfigure, disable or kill him, or of causing bodily injury by means of any acid, lye or other caustic substance or agent, the jury or the court trying the case without a jury may find the accused not guilty of the offense charged but guilty of unlawfully doing such act…, or of assault and battery if the evidence warrants.Va. Code § 18.2-54
Should I get an attorney for a Malicious Wounding charge?
Both malicious and unlawful wounding require specific elements of proof. And as mentioned above, there is a possibility of getting a lesser charge such as assault and battery, which is a misdemeanor. When charged with such a serious offense like Malicious Wounding, you should absolutely have an attorney evaluate your case to see if you could get your felony dismissed or reduced to a misdemeanor.
If you have questions, contact our office today for a consultation.