Strangulation in Virginia Courts

Criminal Defense Attorneys Serving Fairfax, Leesburg & Manassas, Virginia


If you or a loved one has been charged with the crime of strangulation in Fairfax, Loudoun, or Prince William County it is a serious offense and you should seek legal help immediately.  Virginia’s strangulation law is felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.  The Virginia General Assembly passed new laws regarding strangulation in 2012 because they wanted to punish alleged claims of choking a domestic partner more seriously than a domestic assault.

Many times in Northern Virginia, we have seen the police charge both misdemeanor domestic assault and a felony strangulation after an arrest has been made after a family fight has occurred.

The Gordon Law Firm has helped dozens of people who have been charged with strangulation in Fairfax and other Northern Virginia courts.  Our knowledge and experience with the laws concerning domestic assault and strangulation have helped hundreds of families and individuals recover from a difficult time in their lives.

If you or someone you care about has been charged with strangulation in Virginia, Alex Gordon and Carlos Wall of The Gordon law Firm can provide you with the advice and representation you need to protect your freedom. Call 703.218.8416 or email us immediately.


The definition of the strangulation in Virginia is dry and technical.

The charge of strangulation is found in Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-51.6. It states:

Any person who, without consent, impedes the blood circulation or respiration of another person by knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully applying pressure to the neck of such person resulting in the wounding or bodily injury of such person is guilty of strangulation, a Class 6 felony.

It is important to know each of the elements of the strangulation charge in order to defend your case.


To be convicted of the charge of strangulation, the Commonwealth of Virginia must prove each of the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Before you can be convicted, the prosecutor must prove all of the following:

That a person:

knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully;

without consent;

stopped blood circulation or breathing;

by applying pressure to a person's neck;

causing bodily injury or a wound to that person.


A prosecutor must prove that the alleged offender meant to “strangle” a person by applying pressure to the neck. Unintentional or accidental actions that restrict the flow of blood or air do not apply under this charge.

What does “WITHOUT CONSENT” mean?

The Commonwealth Attorney must prove that the strangulation was without the alleged victim’s consent. We have learned through our experience that sometimes couples may actually give consent during roughhousing or romantic situations during sex.  Unfortunately sometimes the “choked” partner uses this situation to their advantage to get their romantic partner in trouble when the relationship goes sour.  

Did the strangulation hinder “BLOOD CIRCULATION OR RESPIRATION”

The Commonwealth Attorney must present evidence that shows that the alleged offender stopped the circulation of blood in the neck, or prevented the alleged victim from being able to breathe while holding that person's neck.  If the Commonwealth Attorney cannot prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant will be found “Not Guilty” of strangulation in Virginia.


The prosecutor must prove that pressure was applied to the other person's neck by the Defendant.

This proof can be presented by:

Alleged victim's testimony,

Markings or bruises on the neck,

Symptoms of lack of circulation or ability to breathe (i.e. brain damage caused by lack of oxygen),

Injuries to the neck or throat.

Did the accused take action “CAUSING BODILY INJURY OR A WOUND”

The prosecutor must show to a judge or jury that some physical injury which occurred to the alleged victim. The statute does not require that the injury during strangulation has to be severe or significant. Nearly any injury, even just a bruise, will be considered as proof of the offense.

It is important to remember that each of the elements of the crime of strangulation must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If any one element is not sufficiently proven, the Defendant should be found not guilty.


A person can also be charged with attempted strangulation. If a person tries to commit the offense of strangulation, they could still be charged with a felony. Attempted strangulation is a Class 6 felony subject to the same penalties as strangulation.


According to Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-51.6, strangulation is a Class 6 felony in Virginia. If convicted, a person can be punished in the following ways:

1 to 5 years in state prison, or

Confinement in a county jail for up to 12 months, and

A fine of up to a maximum of $2,500.

If convicted, you not only face the penalties listed above but the label of a "felon." As a felon, your rights are limited. You will now have to answer "yes" on any form which asks if you have ever been convicted of a felony. This may make it harder to gain and maintain employment. You also lose many important civil rights, like the right to bear a firearm and the right to vote.



The Gordon Law Firm will listen carefully to you and other witnesses in order to analyze the unique facts of your case.  Our job is to use our experience helping people accused of strangulation and domestic assault in Fairfax and other Northern Virginia courts to develop the best strategy to defend your case.

to present the best defense. Some of the following could be used to prevent a conviction. Other options could include using weaknesses in the Commonwealth Attorney’s case to reduce the charge  or reduce the punishment.


On a charge of strangulation, the Commonwealth Attorney is required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each and every element of the charge required by Virginia law.  Carlos Wall and Alex Gordon can defend your strangulation charge by showing that there are inconsistencies in the evidence, a create doubt in the mind of the judge or jury.  Also The Gordon Law Firm could also attempt to show that the accused acted in self-defense, or with the consent of the alleged “victim”, or that the necessary restriction of blood or air flow did not take place.


Suppression of evidence is a tactic used by The Gordon Law Firm to attempt to exclude evidence which was wrongfully acquired by the police.  If Virginia law enforcement officers failed to follow the constitutional requirements for the collection of evidence, the evidence which was wrongfully obtained can be excluded from the trial. In some instances, this can result in the dismissal of your strangulation charge.

Many times the police may question a person accused of strangulation.  If a person was not properly given their constitutionally required Miranda warnings, any statements provided by the accused to the police could be excluded from evidence.

Consultation Today

Alex Gordon and Carlos Wall have over thirty years of experience representing clients in Northern Virginia. We are committed to providing experienced, caring and effective legal representation for people accused of strangulation in Virginia courts. We get people back on track so they can have a second chance.

If you are facing criminal charges such as domestic assault or strangulation in Northern Virginia, call The Gordon Law Firm, PC, now at 703-218-8416 or complete the form on this page for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you try to achieve the best outcome.