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Defending Against a Strangulation Charge in Virginia

How Does The Commonwealth Define Strangulation?


Strangulation is a felony crime in Virginia, and is punishable with a prison sentence and a permanent criminal record. According to Va Code § 18.2-51.6, there are five elements to strangulation, and each element has to be proven by the prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt. The five elements that make up the crime of strangulation are: 1. Knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully; 2. Without consent; 3. Stopping blood circulation or breathing; 4. By applying pressure to the victim’s neck; 5. Causing wounding or bodily injury.


It is important to know what is necessary to establish the elements of strangulation to be able to develop a defense against the charges you are facing.

Intentionally, Knowingly, and Unlawfully


The prosecution has to be able to prove that the strangulation was intentional and knowingly. Unintentionally or accidentally applying pressure to someone else’s neck would not fall within the crime of strangulation.

Without Consent


The victim must not have agreed to the act of strangulation in question. In certain scenarios, a person can agree to being strangled, such as sex acts or martial arts training.

Stopping Blood Circulation or Breathing


If the prosecutor is not able to prove that the accused person stopped the victim’s blood circulation or breathing, the accused cannot be found 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 prove that this occurred includes victim’s testimony, bruises or markings on the victim’s neck, neck or throat injuries, or symptoms of a lack of circulation or breathing, such as brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen.

Causing Bodily Injuries or a Wound


The victim had to have suffered a physical injury for strangulation to have been committed. All that is required to establish this element of strangulation are bruises or other injuries to the victim.

Penalties for Strangulation in Virginia


Strangulation is a Class 6 felony in the Commonwealth. Anyone convicted of this crime may be sentenced to 1 to 5 years of prison and ordered to pay a $2500 fine.


In addition, attempted strangulation is a class 6 felony and subject to the same penalties as a successful strangulation attempt.

How We Can Help

The Pickett Law Group, PLLC is an experienced law firm with two generations of former prosecutors, who have fought from both sides of the courtroom on all types of legal issues, including Strangulation and Attempted Strangulation. Our attorneys can help ensure that you have the best defense possible in your case. Contact us today and we will begin fighting on your behalf.

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