Aggravated assault is a very serious criminal charge. In addition to the possible criminal penalties, it can make it hard to pass a background check to get a job or find housing. If you’ve been charged with aggravated assault, it’s important to explore every option available to defend your rights.
What Is Aggravated Assault?
Aggravated assault is a more serious charge than a simple assault. There are three main types of attempted assault charges.
- Causing serious bodily injury or attempting to cause serious bodily injury
- Causing or attempting to cause bodily injury (not necessarily serious) to a certain class of person, such as:
- Police officers
- Court personnel
- School employees
- Children under the age of 6
- Children over 6 but under 13 if the injury or attempted injury is serious
- Using a deadly weapon or tear gas to cause or attempt to cause injury
The assault charge includes causing injury intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly. This means that in addition to setting out to cause the injury, it also includes actions that a person should know could cause injury or have a high chance of leading to injury. It may also include actions that created a risk of death but lacked the intent to be considered attempted murder.
What Is the Penalty for Aggravated Assault?
There are two levels of aggravated assault.
- Most convictions result in a second degree felony. The maximum sentence is 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
- If the action actually results in serious bodily injury (not just an attempt), it becomes a first degree felony. The maximum sentence is 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
What Is Serious Bodily Injury?
Serious bodily injury is an injury that can result in permanent damage, such as a loss, impairment, or disfigurement. It can also be an injury that creates a substantial risk of death.
Serious bodily injury is a subjective determination. That means it’s open to determination. The charging police officer makes the initial decision; then the prosecutor may revise the charges. Your defense attorney can argue to the judge that the injuries weren’t actually serious, and any aggravated assault charges should be dropped or reduced. You also have the right to go to trial and have the jury determine if there was actually a serious bodily injury or a risk of serious bodily injury.
What Is a Deadly Weapon?
A weapon that can cause death or serious injury is classified as a deadly weapon. This includes things you’d commonly think of like guns or knives. Other objects can be classified as deadly weapons if they’re used in a manner that can cause serious injury. These might include a baseball bat, metal pipe, or broken bottle.
What Are Charges Related to Aggravated Assault?
There are several charges that can commonly also result in aggravated assault charges.
- Resisting arrest if an officer is injured or the subject actively fights a police officer.
- Domestic violence in which a weapon was used or serious injuries resulted.
- Sex crimes involving a forcible assault to commit the crime.
- DUI accidents can also result in aggravated assault charges if they result in serious injury. Even though the injury isn’t an intentional action, the act of illegally driving while under the influence of a drug or alcohol created the risk of injury.
Is It Good to Get a Plea Bargain Down to Simple Assault?
An aggravated assault conviction is not something that you want on your record. Aggravated assault is considered a violent felony. A violent felony makes it virtually impossible to find a good job and is disqualifying in many housing applications as well. Felonies also carry general consequences such as losing your right to vote, own a gun, and other civil rights.
Simple assault is a common plea bargain option, because it’s the next charge down. Simple assault is a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a better outcome than a felony because it has a shorter potential sentence and doesn’t have the same automatic consequences that a felony does. However, simple assault is still a crime of violence, and having a crime of violence on your record can still be disqualifying in many situations. It’s very important to review the situation and potential plea bargain options with your criminal defense attorney to see if making a deal is the right move for you.
What Are the Defenses to Aggravated Assault?
There are several possible defenses to an aggravated assault charge. One is attacking specific elements of the crime to create reasonable doubt. For example, if there was an injury, it may not be serious. If there was no injury, there also may not have been a risk or fear of an injury. There could also be a lack of intent such as in a complete accident. Keep in mind that the prosecutor has to prove each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt or the verdict must be not guilty.
Self-defense is another common defense to aggravated assault. If someone causes harm, attempts to cause harm, or threatens to cause harm to you, you have the right to respond with reasonable force to prevent the harm. This includes the possibility of hurting the other person or threatening to hurt them if necessary. It’s actually somewhat common for the police to arrest the wrong person after a violent confrontation. They or other witnesses may not have seen how it started. The police may also just base the arrest on who got hurt worse. You still have the right to raise a defense of self-defense to the judge and jury.
Work With an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with aggravated assault, your legal rights are on the line. Let us review your case and the law to see what defenses you may have. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney, focused on building a strong attorney client relationship and ready to fight for you. To get more information, call us today, contact us online, or visit the home page of our website.