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Science Fiction: Avatars, a virus delivered by a sword, a crime, banishment, space adventure

Need help remembering a book People do not interact directly but instead send robotic avatars into the world. Avatars are translated into realistic or fantastical versions of their owners depending on the owner preferences – some prefer simplicity or realism, while others prefer fantasy characters.  The protagonist is targeted by some group or other and gets into a duel with another character who stabs his avatar with a sword – this sword delivers a virus into the avatar. 

A crime is committed and our protagonist is tried and found guilty, sentenced to banishment. He needs to live in the real world directly and leaves his pod (in a space elevator or orbiting ring).  Ventures into space. 

Novel turns into a space adventure after that.