Understanding the Crime of Strangulation and the Penalties If You Are Convicted

Man With Hands on a Woman's Neck depicting StrangulationStrangulation is a serious felony crime in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If convicted, you may face a prison sentence and a permanent criminal record. If you have been charged with this offense in Fairfax, you should contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Greenspun Shapiro PC immediately. Our skilled attorneys can help you build a strong defense to the charges you face.

Elements of Strangulation

Virginia Code § 18.2-51.6 is the criminal statute that defines the crime of strangulation. There are five elements to this offense, and they must all be proven by the prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt. They are:

  • Knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully
     
  • Without consent
     
  • Stopping blood circulation or breathing
     
  • By applying pressure to the victim’s neck
     
  • Causing wounding or bodily injury

Understanding what is required to establish these elements of strangulation can help you begin to develop defenses to the charges you face.

Intentionally, Knowingly, and Unlawfully

The strangulation must have been intentional and knowingly. If the person unintentionally or accidentally applied pressure to another’s neck, it would not fall within the crime of strangulation.

Without Consent

The victim must not have consented to the strangulation. In some situations, such as sex acts or martial arts training, a person can agree to being strangled.

Stopping Blood Circulation or Breathing

The prosecutor must prove that the accused person stopped the victim’s blood circulation or respiration. If this did not happen, he is not guilty of strangulation.

Applying Pressure to the Victim’s Neck

The offender must have applied pressure to the victim’s neck. Evidence that can be used to establish this includes:

  • Victim’s testimony
     
  • Bruises or markings on the victim’s neck
     
  • Neck or throat injuries
     
  • Symptoms of lack of circulation or breathing, such as brain damage caused by lack of oxygen

Causing Bodily Injuries or a Wound

The victim must have suffered a physical injury for this crime to have been committed. Bruises or other minor injuries is all that is required to establish this element of strangulation.

Strangulation Penalties in Virginia

Strangulation is a Class 6 felony in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If convicted, you may be sentenced to a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years and ordered to pay a $2,500 fine. Depending on the circumstances of the crime and your past criminal history, the sentence may be reduced to a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a fine not to exceed $2,500.

When You May Be Charged With Attempted Strangulation

When the attempt at strangulation was unsuccessful, a person may be charged with attempted strangulation instead. Attempted strangulation is also a Class 6 felony in Virginia, and the penalties are the same as for strangulation.

Have you or a loved one been arrested for strangulation or another violent crime? Our dedicated legal team will aggressively fight to defend you so that you achieve the best possible outcome. We have extensive experience defending clients facing violent crime, murder, and other serious felony charges. We represent clients in Fairfax, Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC. To learn about your possible defenses and how we can assist you, call our office to schedule a free consultation today.