Juvenile Assault and Battery
There was a time when fights between youths were just considered a normal part of growing up. The Commonwealth understood this as well and made an effort not to prosecute such scuffles. However, the Commonwealth more and more these days has found it worthwhile to drag these charges into court. As technically violent offenses, an assaults and batteries can have a troublesome effect on a child’s future. First, it can get the child involved in the criminal justice system through probation or detention. As well, colleges may ask about juvenile convictions in their application process.
As a misdemeanor, a juvenile assault and battery is prosecuted as a delinquent act in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. The J&DR judge has a wide range of options to deal with juvenile ranging from deferment to detention to house arrest. That being said, an assault and battery can be charged as felony, usually relating to the involvement of a police officer or teacher. Under this circumstance, a conviction will result in a lifelong criminal record for the child.
What is an Assault and Battery?
An assault and battery is a very commonly charged offense. By itself, an assault is putting someone else in reasonable fear of eminent bodily harm. Think of it as a threat with an action towards that threat and the present ability to carry out the threat. Simple statements are not enough, but a threatening action will usually suffice. An assault and battery is essentially any kind of harmful or offensive touching. Even spitting can count as an assault and battery.
A defendant may also have valid defenses in an assault and battery case. One such defense is self-defense. A person is entitled to use the force reasonably necessary to fend off the attack of another. Though rarely successfully, it can also sometimes be argued that the touching was accidental or not harmful. As well, it may be possible to attack the Commonwealth’s witnesses in the case. Many of these cases are simple matters of he-said-she-said and the Commonwealth needs to prove its story beyond a reasonable doubt.If the Commonwealth’s witness has inconsistencies in their story or even a past criminal record, it might be possible to discredit their witness.
What Happens if my Juvenile is Convicted?
First of all, it may be possible to avoid the conviction even if it is pretty clear that the Commonwealth has the evidence it needs. In some cases, the J&DR judge will defer a finding of guilt and place the defendant on what amounts to probation. If the defendant successfully completes the probationary period, he can return to court and have the charges dismissed.
Rarely does a conviction result in a period of detention for a juvenile. Where detention time is a possibility is where the defendant has a long history of fighting in the past. However, even in these circumstances actions can be taken to mitigate the defendant’s record. Preemptively getting involved in drug and alcohol programs or anger management might be enough to show the judge that this defendant does not need incarceration. Speak with a Fairfax County, Virginia criminal defense attorney in order to develop strong mitigation strategies for your case.