What is Strangulation in Virginia?
The Virginia law against strangulation, Va. Code § 18.2-51.6, is fairly brief. In whole, it says:
Any person who, without consent, impedes the blood circulation or respiration of another person by knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully applying pressure to the neck of such person resulting in the wounding or bodily injury of such person is guilty of strangulation, a Class 6 felony.
This charge is a felony, and should be taken seriously. A Class 6 Felony carries a possible sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of up to $2,500, as well as loss of voting and firearm rights, among other consequences.
A strangulation charge does not require serious injury or death. It will often be charged when there are allegations of violence, and there is any evidence that the accused touched the neck of the alleged victim.
But to sustain a conviction, the Commonwealth must prove that 1) pressure was knowingly and intentionally applied to the neck (so, not an accident), and 2) that the pressure actually impeded blood circulation or respiration. Frequently, the second element is established by the testimony of the alleged victim.
Do I Need A Lawyer if I Have Been Charged With Strangulation?
This is a serious charge, and a Felony can have significant collateral consequences. If you have been charged with this crime, it is a good idea to talk to a local Criminal Defense Attorney who can advise you and represent you. An experienced attorney will be able to evaluate the Commonwealth’s evidence, and identify any possible defenses you may have. Contact one of our Virginia Criminal Defense Attorneys to learn how we can help you.