Under Virginia law, a malicious wounding is when someone maliciously causes injury to a victim with the intent to kill, disfigure, maim, or disable. When someone acts "maliciously," they are intentionally or purposefully injuring the victim without justification. "Intent to kill" means that the actor had, in his mind, the desire to take the life of another. On the other hand, unlawful wounding is when someone causes injury to another without acting maliciously and without intent to kill. When a defendant is found guilty of either malicious or unlawful wounding, there are factors that may increase the severity of their punishment.
Factors Increasing Punishment of Malicious Wounding:
1) Permanent Impairment: A malicious wounding moves up in severity to an aggravated malicious wounding when the victim suffers permanent and significant impairment or the termination of a pregnancy. Aggravated malicious wounding is punishable by 20 years to life in prison and a fine up to $100,000.
2) Firearms: Using, attempting to use, or displaying in a threatening manner a firearm while committing or attempting to commit a malicious wounding becomes a separate felony. Those subsequent violations are punishable by three years of imprisonment for the first offense and five years for the second and any subsequent offenses.
Factors Increasing Punishment of Unlawful Wounding:
3) Felony: When a victim is unlawfully wounded in the commission of a felony, the crimes may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony with up to one year in jail, or one to five years in prison, as well as a fine up to $2,500.
Factors Increasing Punishment of Malicious or Unlawful Wounding:
4) Protected Employees: When a malicious or unlawful wounding is committed against a protected employee, and the actor knew or had reason to know that the victim was a protected employee, the actor is punished more severely. Protected employees are those who perform a public duty, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, search and rescue personnel, and emergency medical services personnel. The malicious wounding of a protected employee is punishable by five to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000, with a minimum of 2 years in prison. The unlawful wounding of a protected employee is punishable by one year in prison.
5) Acid, Fire, or Explosion: The use of acid, fire, or explosion in the commission of a malicious or unlawful wounding also causes the defendant to be punished more severely. Maliciously causing injury with acid, fire, or explosion is punishable by five to 30 years of imprisonment. An unlawful wounding by acid, fire, or explosion may be punished as a felony or a misdemeanor by up to one year in jail, or one to five years in prison, and a fine up to $2,500.