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Can I be charged with assaulting a police officer if I was unaware that he was law enforcement?

Did you know that many states have specific statutes that punish offenses committed against police officers, or state officials? In Virginia, when a person commits an assault and battery on a person he knows to be a law enforcement official, more jail time may be an option that the State and prosecution has at their disposal. Because assault and battery is a serious offense carrying serious penalties, anyone charged with a crime of this nature should consider consulting an experienced local Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer to seek the best outcome in court.

Under statutes that punish a person for committing a crime against someone of a specific class, occupation, or status, there is a critical factor that must be addressed. The alleged perpetrator must have intended to commit the crime against that person, knowing that the person was of the specified class. For example, if a statute states something to the effect of: “Any person who commits a battery on a law enforcement official with knowledge that the victim is a law enforcement officer, he shall be punished by …[referencing an increased sentence]” then proving such “knowledge” is certainly key to the prosecution’s case. In this example, if a defendant is charged with battery, but the court believes the defendant’s testimony in that he did not know that the victim was a police officer, then the court should find him “not guilty.” Every case presents unique facts for the court to consider, however, and you should not use this example as an analogy to you or a loved one’s case. It is for educational purposes only.  For an analysis of your fact specific case, call your local Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer.

Statutes aimed at curbing violence against law enforcement are advocated by groups and government agencies across the country. According to an FBI report, 19 officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty during the years 2000-2009.