Words can never be an assault.
"Name calling" is never grounds for an assault and never grounds for physical action that might be called "self-defense."
An assault is an act that either intends to do bodily harm to another person or intends to make another person fearful of bodily harm. This means that merely raising your fist in a threatening manner may be deemed an assault.
Battery is an intentional touching of another without justification, done in an angry, rude, insulting or vengeful manner.
These definitions mean that you can be accused of assault or assault and battery [the terms are often used interchangeably] by doing very little, if anything.
For instance, deliberately spitting on someone is deemed an assault, deliberately brushing up against another person may be deemed an assault, if your car "deliberately" touches the car of another, that might be deemed and assault.
The key word is "deliberately." You must intend to touch the other person or make the other person fearful that you will touch them in a way they do not want to be touched.
Assault or assault and battery is a class one misdemeanor in Virginia and is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $2500 fine. This is true in Fairfax and everywhere in Virginia.
Since it is a misdemeanor, assault or assault and battery are tried first in General District Court.
The standard of proof that the government must meet in order for the judge to convict is beyond a reasonable doubt. This is true in Fairfax and everywhere.
General District Court is not a court of record in Virginia. So, unless the defendant brings her or his own court reporter, there will not be a recording of the trial.
It is very important that you have a record of the trial in the event that you want to have a new trial in Circuit Court. It is hugely important to planning a trial to have a record of a previous trial. With the record, your attorney can point out to the judge or jury that a key witness has changed her or his testimony, which makes the key witness seem untrustworthy. You and your attorney can also plan better about what questions to ask the government's witnesses and what the exact evidence is against you. People think they are going to remember exactly what happens in trial. They don't. A trial is very emotional and detailed. GET A COURT REPORTER!
For defenses to an assault or assault and battery charge, see my other blogs, such as:
Self-Defense; Duress; Accident; Bias; Motivation to Fabricate; Impossibility.