The author, Marina Medvin, is a passionate trial attorney who focuses her practice exclusively on criminal defense. She advocates for her clients in Federal and Virginia State courthouses on a daily basis. Ms. Medvin is presently accepting clients for criminal cases pending in Alexandria, Fairfax, Arlington, Falls Church, Prince William, and in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria.
MISDEMEANOR ASSAULT AND BATTERY STATUTES / PENALTIES
The Assault and Battery / Simple Assault statute are explained in VA Code section 18.2-57. Assault committed with a group is charged under VA Code 18.2-42 as assault or battery by a mob. These types of assault are punished as a class 1 misdemeanor. The maximum jail time is one year, and the maximum fine is $2,500 – in addition to restitution for medical expenses of the victim.
WHAT IS ASSAULT?
Assault and battery are not the same thing. Assault is a threat, with the means to carry out a battery, that put the victim in reasonable fear of offensive touching, harm or danger. The victim must fear that the harm is imminent – that is is coming immediately, as opposed to some time later. So, threats over the phone would not count as assault under this statute (although threats over a phone are punished as a separate crime described below).
If you have been charged with an felony or misdemeanor Assault, Battery, Threatening, or Malicious Wounding crime in Northern Virginia, contact criminal defense attorney Marina Medvin at 703.870.6868 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your case, review your defense strategies, and learn what to expect in court. Ask if you qualify for a free consultation.
WHAT IS BATTERY?
The Virginia courts define battery as simple touching of another, whether willfully or in anger; this includes touching done to be rudeness or to insult. This includes being touched by objects set in motion by the defendant, such as whips and even a defendant’s dogs! The difference from assault is that basic assault does not require actual touching.
Accidental, non-reckless touching is not considered a battery, and an “accident” is a defense to this charge. Additional defenses include: consent to the touching (such as agreeing to participate in a boxing match) and self-defense. (Self-defense is explained in the following article – Virginia Law on Self Defense and Defense of Others Revealed and Explained).
A victim’s words, no matter how insulting, will not excuse a battery without him touching you first. However, the victim’s conduct, including provocation and insulting words, is admissible to mitigate the punishment.
DOMESTIC ASSAULT / ASSAULT AND BATTERY ON A FAMILY MEMBER
While this crime has the same elements and penalties as the other assaults, the difference is that the victim must have been a member of the family or the household. The benefit to this charge is that there is a first-time offender program, that if your lawyer can get the prosecutor to agree too, would result in a dismissal of this charge with the completion of an anger management or related program.
If you would like to review recent assault and wounding case results, please click here.
VIRGINIA HATE CRIME PUNISHMENT
If the victim was intentionally selected because of race, religion, color or ethnicity, there is a mandatory sentence of 6 months in jail, the first 30 days of which is a mandatory minimum to serve.
Mentioning racial slurs prior to making an unprovoked attack is sufficient to prove intentional selection based on hate.
If the victim was selected because of race, religion, color or ethnicity and the assault/battery results in personal injury, Virginia law elevates the offense to a class 6 felony with the same mandatory minimum penalties.
ASSAULT WITH A GUN / FIREARM
Assault with a gun is also a class 1 misdemeanor, but this type of assault is discussed in more detail in the article Virginia Gun, Firearm, and Weapon Law Revealed and Explained.
ASSAULT ON A POLICE OFFICER / LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER / FIREFIGHTER
When in the performance of their official duties, attacks on law enforcement officers are elevated for purposes of punishment. So, the same assault and battery elements will result in a class 6 felony conviction – with a mandatory required minimum jail sentence of 6 months. This is punished by up to 5 years in prison, with up to a $2,500 fine. Assault / battery on a probation officer is a class 5 felony with up to 10 years in jail.
Disarming the police officer is a class 1 misdemeanor, but if the weapon that you took was a stun gun / taser or a gun, then it’s a class 6 felony.
FELONY MALICIOUS WOUNDING AND FELONY UNLAWFUL WOUNDING
The Maiming Statute – Virginia Code § 18.2-51 – states: If any person maliciously shoot, stab, cut, or wound any person or by any means cause him bodily injury, with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill, he shall, except where it is otherwise provided, be guilty of a Class 3 felony.” This crime is punishable by up to 20 years in jail, with a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence, and up to a $100,000 fine. If such act be done unlawfully but not maliciously, with the intent aforesaid, the offender shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. This is punished by up to 5 years in prison, with up to a $2,500 fine.
Malicious wounding must be proven by the government as follows: 1) Intended to maliciously wound, injure, cut, stab, shoot someone with intent to maim, disfigure, disable or kill that person, and 2) committed a direct but ineffectual act towards this purpose.
The accused can cause this injury with his hands and knees as much as with a knife, machete or sharp jewelry. “Any means” under this section includes using your dog or pit bull to inflict the injuries.
Malice is defined generally as the ill will to do something, or an intentional and wrongful act without legal justification. A wound is defined in Virginia as a breaking of the skin. (If you see blood in a fight, skin has been broken.) An injury in Virginia is defined as internal or organ damage.
There is no requirement of severe injury or disfigurement. To have the requisite intent under this law, the accused must have intended to inflict a permanent wound. It is not required that the wound be in fact permanent, or even severe, but only that the accused intended to cause such harm. If the wound was in fact permanent, disfiguring, or severe, the accused would be charged under Virginia Code Section 18.2-51.2, the Aggravated Malicious Wounding statute. Aggravated Malicious Wounding is punished as a class 2 felony, by up to life in prison, and have a minimum prison sentence of 20 years, with a fine of up to $100,000. (This is the same penalty as a murder charge!)
Intent may be inferred from acts or words the accused used during and prior to the fight. But, intent can also be inferred from the final act when the intentional act could reasonably lead to a wounding injury. There is a presumption in the law that the natural and necessary consequences of an act were intended by the accused when he carried out the act.
Of course using weapons or a dog easily triggers the inferred intent as described above. Using fists, however, is a different story. The only way that punching someone with your fists can lead to an inference of intent for one of the results described in the statute is if the beating is so violent or brutal that it can reasonably be concluded that the accused had such intent. Thus, even if the blows don’t cause disfigurement, if they were carried out with strong violence or brutality, this felony wounding statute would apply. An example of a case where the accused was convicted of malicious wounding for punching someone was in Clark v. Commonwealth, where the accused continued punching the victim after he was down and had to be pulled away by others before he would stopped. The courts look at the severity of the punches and the number of blows.
Unlawful Wounding lacks the malice that is required for Malicious Wounding, and so it serves as a lesser-included offense of this statute.
Assault and Battery, the misdemeanor charges for beating someone, is also a lesser-included offense of this code section. While the maiming law specifically punishes wounding as a felony, the Battery statute punish misdemeanor beating / touching.
ASSAULTS AND THREATENING WHILE COMMITTING A ROBBERY
There is a 5 year mandatory minimum prison sentence for anyone who commits and assault, battery, or threatens a victim during the commission of a robbery. The act is also charges as a felony. Va Code 18.2-58 states, “If any person commit robbery by partial strangulation, or suffocation, or by striking or beating, or by other violence to the person, or by assault or otherwise putting a person in fear of serious bodily harm, or by the threat or presenting of firearms, or other deadly weapon or instrumentality whatsoever, he shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by confinement in a state correctional facility for life or any term not less than five years.”
Carjacking in Virginia is punished as a felony carrying a penalty sentence of at least 15 years and up to life in prison.
Carjacking is defined as taking control of another person’s motor vehicle with intent to (permanently or temporarily) deprive another of control of that vehicle by means of: “partial strangulation, or suffocation, or by striking or beating, or by other violence to the person, or by assault or otherwise putting a person in fear of serious bodily harm, or by the threat or presenting of firearms, or other deadly weapon or instrumentality whatsoever.” (VA Code 18.2-58.1).
THREATENING OVER A TELEPHONE
Virginia has a law to punish threats made over telephone calls. VA Code 18.2-427 punishes the use of profane, threatening, or indecent language over public airways or by other methods. “Any person who uses obscene, vulgar, profane, lewd, lascivious, or indecent language, or makes any suggestion or proposal of an obscene nature, or threatens any illegal or immoral act with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass any person, over any telephone or citizens band radio, in this Commonwealth, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.”
Threats are punished the exact same way as regular assault & battery – up to 1 year in jail.
Simply threatening another person is considered “stalking” in Virginia when you put that person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury on more than one occasion. This behavior is a Class 1 misdemeanor punished by up to a year in jail. (VA Code 18.2-60.3).
THREATS IN WRITING OR E-MAIL
Putting a threat in writing or email is a Class 6 felony punished by up to 5 years in prison, when you make a threat to kill or hurt a person or a member of his family AND your threat places that person in reasonable apprehension of death or injury to himself or his family member. This is the same fear that is defined in assault law, yet lacks the immediacy requirement in assault law. (VA Code 18.2-60). Additionally, assault, with its higher legal requirements actually has a lesser criminal penalty. As such, threatening someone in writing is a much more serious offense than doing it in person.
RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT / DROPPING OR THROWING OBJECTS FROM HIGHER THAN ONE STORY
If you intentionally throw something from your window or balcony from a story higher than the first floor, than you can be guilty of recklessly endangering someone under VA Code 18.2-51.3, whether or not you actually hurt someone. The act of throwing the object is the reckless endangerment. This is a class 6 felony punished by up to 5 years in prison!
RECENT SUPREME COURT AND COURT OF APPEALS DECISIONS GUIDING TRIAL COURTS IN APPLICATION OF THESE LAWS
English v. Commonwealth, Va: Court of Appeals 2011
The trial court found Jermaine Antoine English guilty of maliciously causing bodily injury in violation of Code § 18.2-51. On appeal, English challenges the sufficiency of the evidence offered to convict him of this offense. We find the evidence sufficient and affirm his conviction.
On appeal, we review the evidence in the “light most favorable” to the Commonwealth. Commonwealth v. Hudson, 265 Va. 505, 514, 578 S.E.2d 781, 786 (2003). This principle requires us to “discard the evidence of the accused in conflict with that of the Commonwealth, and regard as true all the credible evidence favorable to the Commonwealth and all fair inferences to be drawn therefrom.” Parks v. Commonwealth, 221 Va. 492, 498, 270 S.E.2d 755, 759 (1980) (emphasis and citation omitted).
In addition, an appellate court’s “examination is not limited to the evidence mentioned by a party in trial argument or by the trial court in its ruling.” Perry v. Commonwealth, 280 Va. 572, 580, 701 S.E.2d 431, 436 (2010) (quoting Bolden v. Commonwealth, 275 Va. 144, 147, 654 S.E.2d 584, 586 (2008)). Instead, “an appellate court must consider all the evidence admitted at trial that is contained in the record.” Id. (quoting Bolden, 275 Va. at 147, 654 S.E.2d at 586); see also Hamilton v. Commonwealth, 279 Va. 94, 103, 688 S.E.2d 168, 173 (2010).
So viewed, the evidence at trial established that English and his girlfriend, Lauren Wills, argued one afternoon in a bedroom on the second floor of his home. Both had been using cocaine. English accused Wills of being unfaithful and for allowing the other man to steal money from him. When Wills denied the accusations, English choked her, forced her onto the bed, and punched her several times in the face, ribs, arms, and abdomen, where her liver had previously been lacerated. The beating lasted for “quite some time,” Wills testified, and included twenty-five to thirty blows.
Wills testified that, in an effort to stop the beating, she falsely admitted to English’s accusations. English then ordered her downstairs. English followed her, stating he would kill the man Wills allegedly had sex with. Working himself into another rage, English struck Wills until she fell off a couch. English then kicked Wills in her back as she lay on the floor. Wills testified the kick caused an “intense shooting pain” through her back, leaving her barely able to move.
After English allowed Wills to leave, Wills drove to a nearby gas station and met her sister, who arranged for an ambulance to take Wills to a local hospital. Wills, shaking and crying, had red marks covering her face, arms, neck, and head, and her shirt was torn. Her back pain prevented her from exiting her vehicle unassisted.
At trial, approximately nine months later, Wills testified she continued to have “severe back pain.” She had sustained “a lot of nerve damage” that caused “nerve pain” to radiate through her back. She had been receiving medical treatment from her primary care physician, was currently scheduled to see “a pain management doctor,” and had been prescribed “nerve medication” for her ongoing pain syndrome. “Any time anything touches my back or at all,” she testified, “I feel intense nerve pain just because it’s so hypersensitive.” “And it causes me a lot of pain just to sit,” she added, “just because anything touching my back just causes my nerve pain to kind of radiate through my back from all the nerve damage that I had.”
Sitting as factfinder, the trial court found English guilty of “malicious wounding” under Code § 18.2-51. The court concluded the evidence did not “meet the requirements for shoot, cut, stab, or the case law definition of wounding being a breach of the skin or the skin and flesh produced by external violence.” But the evidence did prove, the court held, that Wills sustained a “bodily injury” within the meaning of Code § 18.2-51.
A. STANDARD OF APPELLATE REVIEW
We examine a trial court’s factfinding “with the highest degree of appellate deference.” Thomas v. Commonwealth, 48 Va. App. 605, 608, 633 S.E.2d 229, 231 (2006). An appellate court does not “ask itself whether it believes that the evidence at the trial established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” Williams v. Commonwealth, 278 Va. 190, 193, 677 S.E.2d 280, 282 (2009) (emphasis in original) (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318-19 (1979)). Instead, the only “relevant question is, after reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, whether any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” Sullivan v. Commonwealth, 280 Va. 672, 676, 701 S.E.2d 61, 63 (2010) (emphasis added) (citing Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319).
In a bench trial, a trial judge’s “major role is the determination of fact, and with experience in fulfilling that role comes expertise.” Haskins v. Commonwealth, 44 Va. App. 1, 11, 602 S.E.2d 402, 407 (2004) (citation omitted). On appeal, “the reviewing court is not permitted to substitute its judgment, even if its view of the evidence might differ from the conclusions reached by the finder of fact at the trial.” Commonwealth v. McNeal, 282 Va. 16, 20, 710 S.E.2d 733, 735 (2011) (citation omitted); see Courtney v. Commonwealth, 281 Va. 363, 368, 706 S.E.2d 344, 347 (2011). We are “not permitted to reweigh the evidence,” Nusbaum v. Berlin, 273 Va. 385, 408, 641 S.E.2d 494, 507 (2007), because appellate courts have no authority “to preside de novo over a second trial,” Haskins, 44 Va. App. at 11, 602 S.E.2d at 407.
B. CODE § 18.2-51 — SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE
Often labeled the malicious wounding statute, Code § 18.2-51 makes it a Class 3 felony for any person to “maliciously shoot, stab, cut, or wound” another person “or by any means cause him bodily injury, with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill . . . .” The label is misleading, however, because malicious wounding is only one of several acts violative of the statute. See Johnson v. Commonwealth, 184 Va. 409, 415-16, 35 S.E.2d 594, 596 (1945). Even if the victim is not shot, stabbed, cut, or wounded, a defendant still violates the statute if he “by any means” causes the victim “bodily injury.” Dawkins v. Commonwealth, 186 Va. 55, 64, 41 S.E.2d 500, 505 (1947) (interpreting a predecessor to Code § 18.2-51).
Given its disjunctive syntax, the “statute has been more broadly interpreted to include any bodily injury.” Campbell v. Commonwealth, 12 Va. App. 476, 483, 405 S.E.2d 1, 4 (1991) (en banc) (emphasis added). We give the phrase “bodily injury” its “everyday, ordinary meaning,” Luck v. Commonwealth, 32 Va. App. 827, 832, 531 S.E.2d 41, 43 (2000), which needs no technical, anatomical definition. “Bodily injury comprehends, it would seem, any bodily hurt whatsoever.” Bryant v. Commonwealth, 189 Va. 310, 316, 53 S.E.2d 54, 57 (1949) (emphasis in original) (quoting John B. Minor, Synopsis of the Law of Crimes and Punishments 67 (1894)) (interpreting a predecessor statute). It includes any “detriment, hurt, loss, impairment” that could fairly be considered an injury to the human body. Johnson, 184 Va. at 416, 35 S.E.2d at 596 (citation omitted); see, e.g., Dawkins, 186 Va. at 62, 41 S.E.2d at 504 (breaking the victim’s nose and “kneeing his genital organs” constituted a bodily injury).
To prove a bodily injury, the victim need not experience any observable wounds, cuts, or breaking of the skin. Nor must she offer proof of “broken bones or bruises.” Luck, 32 Va. App. at 831-32, 531 S.E.2d at 43 (interpreting “bodily injury” under Code § 18.2-51.1). Bodily injury “includes soft tissue injuries, at least those which require medical attention and have some residual effect.” Ronald J. Bacigal, Criminal Offenses and Defenses 46 (2010-11 ed.) (citing Luck in a footnote). Thus, internal injuries — no less than external injuries — fall within the scope of Code § 18.2-51.
Governed by these principles, we find ample evidence in the record to support the trial court’s finding that English’s beating of Wills caused her “bodily injury” under Code § 18.2-51. The beating lasted for a sustained period of time, involved as many as twenty-five to thirty blows, and caused Wills “intense shooting pain,” temporarily leaving her barely able to move. Months later, at the time of English’s trial, Wills was still partially incapacitated and continued to need medical treatment for her nerve damage and chronic radiating pain. These facts are more than sufficient for a factfinder to rationally conclude Wills sustained a bodily injury. See, e.g., Luck, 32 Va. App. at 832, 531 S.E.2d at 43 (finding evidence sufficient where victim sustained “soft-tissue injuries that required medical treatment” and suffered “pain and stiffness”).
English argues the absence of any expert medical testimony renders the evidence at trial insufficient as a matter of law. We recently rejected this argument as to the “wounding” aspect of Code § 18.2-51. Johnson v. Commonwealth, 58 Va. App. 303, 316, 709 S.E.2d 175, 182 (2011). Finding “no Virginia authority that requires the testimony of a medical professional or similar expert evidence to show that a victim was wounded,” id., we refused to judicially graft such a requirement into the statute. We reach the same conclusion in this case with respect to the “bodily injury” aspect of Code § 18.2-51.
In many contexts, Virginia law has recognized that, “on matters strictly involving medical science, as such, some special skill is needed, yet there are numerous related matters, involving health and bodily soundness, upon which the ordinary experience of everyday life is entirely sufficient.” Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. v. McCullers, 189 Va. 89, 97, 52 S.E.2d 257, 260 (1949) (quoting 2 John H. Wigmore, A Treatise of Anglo-American System of Evidence in Trials at Common Law § 568, at 660 (3d ed. 1940)); see also Speller v. Commonwealth, 2 Va. App. 437, 441, 345 S.E.2d 542, 545 (1986) (noting “the longstanding Virginia rule is that a witness need not be a medical expert to offer testimony concerning a person’s physical condition”). “Great liberality should be shown by the courts in applying this principle, so that the cause of justice may not be obstructed by narrow and finical rulings.” McCullers, 189 Va. at 97, 52 S.E.2d at 260 (citation omitted). This observation surely applies where, as here, the victim of a violent attack testifies the beating caused her to suffer intense radiating nerve pain of such a degree that she remains partially incapacited from participating in many ordinary activities of life.
We affirm English’s conviction, finding the evidence sufficient to prove he caused bodily injury in violation of Code § 18.2-51.
 English testified at trial. He admitted arguing with Wills but denied using cocaine and claimed he only “smacked” Wills with an open hand a couple of times. When pronouncing its ruling, the trial court found “a good deal of [English's] testimony to be frankly incredible.” Sitting as factfinder, the trial court “was at liberty to discount [the defendant's] self-serving statements as little more than lying to conceal his guilt.” Armstead v. Commonwealth, 56 Va. App. 569, 581, 695 S.E.2d 561, 567 (2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
 The trial court also found English guilty of abduction, a violation of Code § 18.2-47. English did not challenge this conviction in his petition for appeal.
 Our opinions often focus on the definition of a wound as “a breach of the skin” or a “disruption of the internal skin” of the victim. Johnson v. Commonwealth, 58 Va. App. 303, 317, 709 S.E.2d 175, 182 (2011) (citation omitted) (relying on the “continuing validity” of Harris v. Commonwealth, 150 Va. 580, 142 S.E. 354 (1928)). This certainly remains true for the “wounding” crime contained in Code § 18.2-51: Wounding requires a showing of a breach or disruption of the skin. “Since Harris, however, the statute has been more broadly interpreted to include any bodily injury.” Campbell, 12 Va. App. at 483, 405 S.E.2d at 4 (citing Bryant, 189 Va. at 316-17, 53 S.E.2d at 57).
 English does not dispute on appeal the trial court’s finding that he intended “to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill,” an element of Code § 18.2-51. We thus do not address this issue. See Rule 5A:12(c)(1). In a single sentence in his appellate brief, English states he did not act “with malice.” Appellant’s Br. at 1. We do not address this point, however, because unsupported assertions of error “do not merit appellate consideration.” Jones v. Commonwealth, 51 Va. App. 730, 734-35, 660 S.E.2d 343, 345 (2008) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted) (underscoring the importance of Rule 5A:20(e)).
 In his appellate brief, English states that an indictment charging bodily injury “other than stabbing, shooting, cutting, or wounding” should specify the means by which the injury was caused. Appellant’s Br. at 7. We do not address this issue, however, because it was not raised in the trial court, see Code § 19.2-227; Fletcher v. Commonwealth, 209 Va. 636, 639, 166 S.E.2d 269, 272 (1969) (applying the statute of jeofails to a similar contention), and was not the subject of an assignment of error in his petition for appeal, see Rule 5A:12(c).
 “The only safe rule in any of these cases is to ascertain the extent of the witness’ qualifications, and within their range to permit him to speak. Cross-examination and the testimony of others will here, as in all other cases, furnish the best means of testing his value.” 2 John H. Wigmore, Evidence in Trials at Common Law § 568, at 779-80 (James H. Chadbourn rev. 1979) (citation omitted).
Holcomb v. Commonwealth, Va: Court of Appeals 2011
John Andrew-Collins Holcomb (appellant) challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction for knowingly communicating a written threat in violation of Code § 18.2-60(A)(1). Specifically, appellant argues 1) his MySpace posts are not the type of communication contemplated or prohibited by the statute, and 2) the posted lyrics do not constitute a threat. Because the evidence supports a finding that appellant posted a threat on his MySpace profile that placed the recipient in reasonable apprehension of death or bodily injury, we affirm appellant’s conviction.
Appellant and the victim, Miranda Rollman, were previously involved in a romantic relationship that produced a daughter. After the relationship dissolved, a custody battle ensued over their child. During this time and prior to appellant’s arrest for the current offense, he began posting incendiary messages on his MySpace profile, resulting in his arrest.
At trial, the court admitted into evidence several printouts from appellant’s MySpace profile. One of the blog entries—titled “Unfinished Bizness God, I Give You the `woodroll’ family. Tell them to `F the F OFF’ and `GET OFF ME,’”—read:
Poof! Make ya daughter disappear like 2pac! He knew now what he do like 2 cops With no vest, off’d with 2 shots Thru the chest from 2 blocks!
Another post dated August 22, 2009, read:
Custody battles, restraining orders Bitch made me go mad I just had to stab her Blind now I see her true colors On the front cover of The World’s Most Murdered Mothers By Americas Most Wanted Fathers
The post continued, “Ain’t nobody playin’ bitch[,] slit your neck into a fountain drink,” “This is your pre-accident announcing[.] Fuck your fliers[,] I already put the word out for the crowd 2 see[,]” “No one hearing your screams from the knife cut sounds,” and “See you with my daughter I’m a snatch her.” A final post dated August 24, 2009, read:
Still psychotic runnin’ wit the hatchet Never lettin’ go ya throat becomes my obsession Slit throats, blood flows, forever dead and never woke Bitch don’t get choked, sit down ho, don’t provoke
This entry concluded with, “Still labeled psychotic just in case you’re not worried; murder makes me happy so don’t believe I’m nervous.”
Upon being alerted by family members, Rollman testified that she used her mother’s computer to access her MySpace account and view appellant’s posts. After reading them, she “was scared that [she] was going to be killed, maimed; [her] daughter was going to be kidnapped by [appellant]” due to “the extent of the details of exactly what [appellant] wanted to do to [her].” Rollman explained she believed these threats were directed toward her and her family because the blog entry addressed “the `woodroll’ family,” and “Woodroll is my maiden name.” Rollman further testified that one of the posts referenced an incident involving two police officers being called to her house, and the other post referred to a time when her mother passed out flyers with appellant’s picture at Rollman’s place of employment. Rollman acknowledged she and appellant were going through a custody battle and restraining orders had been issued. Taking these posts seriously, Rollman moved into her parents’ home because “they have a security system and cameras.”
On cross-examination, Rollman admitted that appellant’s MySpace profile contained “[p]lenty of different things” in addition to the posts. Rollman confirmed that appellant described himself as a “juggalo,” which is part of “a big family” that “play[s] the same kind of music, listen[s] to the same kind of music.” Appellant “considers himself to be something of a lyricist of [rap] music,” though “he didn’t write demented things” during the course of his relationship with Rollman. Rollman speculated that appellant considered the posts “one long song,” and it was “all on the front page for the world to see.”
Appellant testified in his own defense. He characterized the compilations of words he composed and posted as “art,” “meant to be songs” and “just clever limericks.” Appellant testified he had “been writing songs since [he] was eleven years old, and they’re on [his] MySpace profile because it’s there to express who you are.” He acknowledged he knew Rollman had a MySpace profile but maintained he did not invite her or her family to view his profile. However, he agreed that he put the material on his profile “for the express purpose of it being seen by other people.” Appellant knew he had posted material in April that caused Rollman to be in fear. He denied ever intending for Rollman to read his posts and feel threatened, but acknowledged the posts “if [they] were reality . . . that would be very horrifying; and to think that I think it just to write it is—you know, could just be as horrifying.” Appellant testified that he attempted to block Rollman’s access to his profile sometime in September 2009 and later deleted his profile altogether.
The trial court found that appellant’s ongoing custody dispute involving his daughter created a “connection or [a] nexus” between his posts and Rollman’s “individual situation” such that the posts constituted “very veiled threats.” The trial court accordingly found appellant guilty of communicating a threat in violation of Code § 18.2-60, and this appeal followed.
Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction for communicating a written threat in violation of Code § 18.2-60(A)(1). When the sufficiency of the evidence is challenged on appeal, the court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party and draws all reasonable inferences in its favor. See Dunbar v. Commonwealth, 29 Va. App. 387, 393, 512 S.E.2d 823, 826 (1999). “`The judgment of the trial court sitting without a jury is entitled to the same weight as a jury verdict and will not be set aside unless it appears from the evidence that the judgment is plainly wrong or without evidence to support it.’” Wilkins v. Commonwealth, 18 Va. App. 293, 295, 443 S.E.2d 440, 442 (1994) (en banc) (quoting Martin v. Commonwealth, 4 Va. App. 438, 443, 358 S.E.2d 415, 418 (1987)). We “must discard all evidence of the accused that conflicts with that of the Commonwealth and regard as true all credible evidence favorable to the Commonwealth and all fair inferences reasonably deducible therefrom.” Lea v. Commonwealth, 16 Va. App. 300, 303, 429 S.E.2d 477, 479 (1993). “The weight which should be given to evidence and whether the testimony of a witness is credible are questions which the fact finder must decide.” Bridgeman v. Commonwealth, 3 Va. App. 523, 528, 351 S.E.2d 598, 601 (1986).
Appellant first argues the evidence fails to establish that he knowingly communicated the posts within the meaning of the statute. Appellant suggests that because his chosen medium was “available for everyone to view” on a public website and he did not specifically send the posts to Rollman or direct her to view his posts, he cannot be convicted. We disagree.
In 1998, the General Assembly amended Code § 18.2-60 to criminalize threats contained in “electronically transmitted communication[s] producing a visual or electronic message.” 1998 Va. Acts ch. 687. Code § 18.2-60(A)(1) contains no requirement that the accused must communicate the written threat directly to the intended victim. Instead, “[p]roof that [the accused] intended to make and communicate the [alleged] threat and that the [alleged] threat was made and communicated satisfies the statutory requirement.” Summerlin v. Commonwealth, 37 Va. App. 288, 298, 557 S.E.2d 731, 736 (2002). The statute is concerned with neither the mode of communication nor the number of recipients of the alleged threatening communication. E.g., Keyes v. Commonwealth, 39 Va. App. 294, 298, 572 S.E.2d 512, 514 (2002) (affirming the defendant’s conviction under former Code § 18.2-60(A) even though his threatening letter had been intercepted in the mail before it reached its intended victim); see also United States v. Morales, 272 F.3d 284, 288 (5th Cir. 2001) (rejecting the defendant’s argument that his online statements could not constitute a true threat under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) because “they were made to a random third party who had no connection with” the intended victim).
In interpreting 18 U.S.C. § 875(c), the Second Circuit rejected a similar argument “that the broadcast of the threat to an indefinite and unknown audience is not a `communication’ of that threat.” United States v. Kelner, 534 F.2d 1020, 1023 (2d Cir. 1976). The court reasoned that if this argument were taken to its logical conclusion, “any would-be threatener could avoid the statute by seeking the widest possible means of disseminating his threat.” Id. Rather, the proper inquiry was whether the accused “intended to communicate a threat of injury through means reasonably adapted to that purpose.” Id.
As applied to this case, posting a message on a MySpace profile plainly falls into the category of an “electronically transmitted communication” because it produces a “visual or electronic message” that can be viewed by anyone who has access to that person’s MySpace profile. In fact, the Commonwealth was readily able to print out the posts from appellant’s MySpace profile and enter them into evidence at his trial. Appellant further concedes that he knowingly posted the messages on his MySpace profile. If these messages constituted threats, then nothing more is required. Cf. Wise v. Commonwealth, 49 Va. App. 344, 355, 641 S.E.2d 134, 140 (2007) (noting that in the context of Code § 18.2-460(C), “`[t]he speaker need not actually intend to carry out the threat’ to be proscribable” (quoting Virginia v. Black, 538 U.S. 343, 359-60, 123 S. Ct. 1536, 1548, 155 L. Ed. 2d 535, 552 (2003))).
It is of no consequence that appellant did not direct Rollman to view his MySpace profile. As explained in further detail below, it is sufficient appellant made numerous references to his history with Rollman that allowed her to identify herself as the subject of the violent fantasies once she did view the profile. Further, appellant knew Rollman had access to his MySpace profile and had in fact viewed it in the past. The fact that Rollman lacked a personal computer from which she could access MySpace does not lessen the threatening nature of appellant’s posts because Rollman could, and did, just as easily access MySpace from her mother’s computer. We thus conclude appellant’s posts on his MySpace profile are electronic communications capable, depending on their content, of constituting threats in violation of Code § 18.2-60.
Appellant next argues his posts do not constitute threats under Code § 18.2-60(A)(1). Appellant contends the context of the posts indicates that they are lyrics, notwithstanding the graphic and violent content of the messages. In support of this argument, appellant asserts that he previously used MySpace as a medium for posting other lyrics he had composed, and he has an established history of involvement with that particular style of music.
“A threat, in the criminal context, is recognized to be a communication avowing an intent to injure another’s person or property.” Perkins v. Commonwealth, 12 Va. App. 7, 16, 402 S.E.2d 229, 234 (1991). We “must consider a communication in its particular context when determining whether a speaker’s words constitute a true threat.” Wise, 49 Va. App. at 355, 641 S.E.2d at 140. Thus, we “view the totality of the circumstances under which the statement was made.” DiMaio v. Commonwealth, 46 Va. App. 755, 767, 621 S.E.2d 696, 702 (2005). “`Threats of physical harm need not be directly expressed, but may be contained in “veiled statements” nonetheless implying injury to the recipient when viewed in all the surrounding circumstances.’” Keyes, 39 Va. App. at 302, 572 S.E.2d at 516 (quoting State v. McGinnis, 243 N.W.2d 583, 589 (Iowa 1976)).
Credible evidence supports the trial court’s finding that appellant’s posts on his MySpace profile were threats because the graphic and violent imagery used in the messages specifically referred to Rollman and her family. In one blog entry, appellant referred to Rollman by using her maiden name, Woodroll. Appellant further referenced specific incidents involving Rollman and identified details that were unique to the acrimonious history between appellant and Rollman stemming from the ongoing custody dispute over their daughter. See, e.g., id. (noting the prior history between the victim and the defendant, who was incarcerated for attempting to rape the victim). Appellant referred to the restraining order Rollman had obtained that prevented contact between appellant and his daughter, about which appellant demonstrated significant hostility. Rollman testified that she recognized several of the incidents contained within the posts, including an incident in which two police officers responded to a domestic disturbance involving appellant and another incident in which Rollman’s mother posted flyers bearing appellant’s picture at Rollman’s place of employment. This specificity demonstrates appellant’s hostility towards Rollman, as he coupled each of these references with desires to violently retaliate against Rollman and her family. To the casual observer, the posts may have seemed somewhat innocuous, but the specificity of the posts relating to appellant’s tumultuous history with Rollman and her family makes clear that appellant’s posts were directed towards Rollman and not meant to be mere expression.
The graphic and violent imagery contained within the posts further indicates the threatening nature of the messages. Appellant made frequent proclamations that he “just had to stab [Rollman]” and “slit [her] neck into a fountain drink.” Appellant explicitly fantasized about “[n]ever lettin’ go ya throat” and “[n]o one hearing your screams from the knife cut sounds,” and concluded “murder makes me happy so don’t believe I’m nervous.” Appellant clearly targeted Rollman as the victim in these violent fantasies, and even admitted that if taken literally, the posts “would be very horrifying.” The trial court was not required to accept appellant’s testimony that the posts were “meant to be songs” or “clever limericks.” Although the evidence suggests appellant had composed and posted lyrics of a similar style in the past, Rollman testified that the subject matter of those lyrics was never as “demented” prior to the deterioration of their relationship.
Finally, we must consider Rollman’s reaction to appellant’s posts to determine whether they placed her in “reasonable apprehension of death or bodily injury.” Code § 18.2-60(A)(1); see Summerlin, 37 Va. App. at 298, 557 S.E.2d at 736 (discussing the victim’s evacuation of the building in response to the defendant’s phone call insinuating that he would detonate a bomb within the organization). In response to reading the posts, Rollman moved into her parents’ home to take advantage of their security system and cameras. Rollman further testified she “was scared that [she] was going to be killed [or] maimed” and that “her daughter was going to be kidnapped.” “The credibility of the witnesses and the weight accorded the evidence are matters solely for the fact finder who has the opportunity to see and hear that evidence as it is presented.” Sandoval v. Commonwealth, 20 Va. App. 133, 138, 455 S.E.2d 730, 732 (1995).
The record provides sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant wrote a message on his MySpace profile threatening to kill or do bodily injury to Rollman and that the threat placed Rollman in reasonable apprehension of death or bodily injury. Accordingly, we affirm appellant’s conviction.
 According to Rollman, MySpace is a social networking website that provides a platform for individuals to design and represent to others a unique webpage called a profile. On the profile, users can post, among other things, photographs, writings, URL links, blog entries, and comments. Individual profiles may be accessed by other MySpace account users; however, access may be limited depending on privacy settings placed on each account by the holder. Both appellant and Rollman used MySpace accounts at the time of appellant’s posts.
 Code § 18.2-60(A)(1) provides:
Any person who knowingly communicates, in a writing, including an electronically transmitted communication producing a visual or electronic message, a threat to kill or do bodily injury to a person, regarding that person or any member of his family, and the threat places such person in reasonable apprehension of death or bodily injury to himself or his family member, is guilty of a Class 6 felony.
 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) criminalizes the “transmi[ssion] in interstate or foreign commerce [of] any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another.”
 The Federal Courts of Appeal have uniformly held that “evidence of the recipient’s reaction is relevant and admissible” to the inquiry of whether it was reasonable for the victim to believe an individual had a serious intention of inflicting physical harm. United States v. Alaboud, 347 F.3d 1293, 1298 (11th Cir. 2003); see also United States v. Fulmer, 108 F.3d 1486, 1499-1500 (1st Cir. 1997) (“We find that evidence of the recipient’s reactions is relevant to that inquiry.”); United States v. Dinwiddie, 76 F.3d 913, 925 (8th Cir. 1996); United States v. Roberts, 915 F.2d 889, 890-91 (4th Cir. 1990); United States v. Schneider, 910 F.2d 1569, 1571 (7th Cir. 1990) (“The fact that the victim acts as if he believed the threat is evidence that he did believe it, and the fact that he believed it is evidence that it could reasonably be believed and therefore that it is a threat.”); United States v. Orozco-Santillan, 903 F.2d 1262, 1265 (9th Cir. 1990) (considering the “reaction of the listeners”). Thus, in determining whether a statement is threatening and places the recipient “in reasonable apprehension of death or bodily injury” under Code § 18.2-60(A)(1), we hold that “proof of the effect of the alleged threat upon the addressee is highly relevant[,]” United States v. Malik, 16 F.3d 45, 49 (2d Cir. 1994).
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