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Criminal defense for man accused of assault must probe the facts

Virginia Beach police arrested a suspect in a stabbing case recently. It illustrates a typical incident, and its reported circumstances pose some of the questions that criminal defense counsel must ask in initiating the defense of such an accused individual. The arrest occurred somewhere near the S. Plaza Trail after police heard a man screaming in a parking lot behind the Blarneystone Pub.

Although on another assignment, the police responded to the screaming and allegedly found a stabbing victim. The suspect had not left the scene. The victim was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. He was later released, police said.

The suspect was arrested and is being held without bond. The facts reported by the police leave several questions unanswered. It will be the job of defense counsel to try and get answers to those questions to maximize the defense effort. Initially, one question to ask may be why no bail was set. Unless the defendant is wanted on other crimes or has other pending cases, there is no apparent excuse to hold someone who did not run from the scene without bail.

One main question will be regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding the cause of the altercation. Counsel will want to establish that this was a mutual fight and not a surprise knifing. That would seem to be true because the accused remained at the scene, according to police reports. In a robbery or similarly motivated attack with a knife, the perpetrator would leave the scene quickly and not wait to be identified by the police.  

Another question is whether there were other witnesses. If so, criminal defense counsel will make every effort to question them to obtain the version of each witness as to what took place. Counsel will also want to determine to what extent the victim may have been armed and whether he was involved in goading the perpetrator in any way. The answers to these queries will have various ramifications under the Virginia criminal laws and will help counsel set the contours of the defense strategy in the case.

Source: wtkr.com, "Virginia Beach Police arrest man for stabbing while responding to unrelated case", June 20, 2017

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