When large groups of people are protesting—which is becoming increasingly more common—tensions can rise between the protesters and police. Even if you are simply exercising your First Amendment right to free speech and peacefully protesting, you could be arrested just because you are part of a protest group.
Two common criminal offenses you may be charged with are assault and battery and assault and battery by a mob. Here’s what you need to know about the harsh penalties you could face.
Assault and Battery Charges and Penalties
Assault and battery crimes are misdemeanor offenses in Virginia. Assault, which is also referred to as simple assault, is the unsuccessful attempt to commit a battery or putting someone in reasonable fear of a battery. It does not have to involve any physical contact with the victim.
Battery, which is also called assault and battery, is the unlawful touching of an individual in a rude, angry, or insulting way and can involve striking a person with an object instead of through direct physical conduct. It can also be committed by the simple act of spitting on someone. The victim does not have to suffer any injuries to be charged with this crime.
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-57, simple assault and assault and battery are Class 1 misdemeanor crimes. If convicted, a person could be sentenced to:
- Up to one year in jail.
- Fines up to a maximum of $2,500.
Assault and Battery by Mob Charges and Penalties
Another offense that protesters can be charged with is assault and battery by mob. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-42, this crime is committed when any person in a mob commits a simple assault and battery. A mob is a collection of individuals who have assembled to commit an assault and battery or other act of violence that violates the law.
Assault and battery by mob is also a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, you would face the same punishments as for assault and battery.
If you were arrested while protesting, our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Manassas are here to mount a strong defense for you that may result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. Call our office to schedule your free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.