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At the New York-based Spodek Law Group, we understand how challenging it can be for our clients who are accused of assault and battery. In New York City, assault and battery carries heavy fines and years of imprisonment. Thankfully, there are a wide array of defenses that can be used in assault and battery cases depending on the circumstances.
The circumstances surrounding assault and battery case are varied. In the following examples of assault and battery case defenses, we are going to assume the following things. First, we will assume that this is not a case of mistaken identity and no other fundamental error was made. Next, we are going to assume that the elements of assault and battery do exist in this case. Based on these assumptions, the following is a few of the ways that our law firm can help defend you.
Self-defense is the most widely used defense in an assault and battery case. The criteria required to show that a person acted in self-defense includes the following:
• A threat of force or any harm of an unlawful nature against the defendant
• There must be an honest, truthful perception of fear of harm to the defendant
• The defendant must have done nothing to provoke the situation, and they must have caused no harm
• It must be shown that the defendant did not have a reasonable chance to flee from the situation or escape the situation that led to the assault
An example of self-defense would be if Sally was confronted by Eric, a large and intimidating stranger who starts to yell at her, threatens to hurt her, and makes a move towards her with his fist in the air in a threatening manner. Sally, out of fear for her safety, attacks Eric and then leaves the area through the nearest available exit at the first available opportunity. In this circumstance, Sally may be able to claim that she attacked Eric in self-defense.
While self-defense is an effective defense to use in court, a defendant must realize that self-defense does have some limitations. For example, the force that a person uses to defend themselves must be commensurate to the threat posed. Additionally, even if all of the above-mentioned criteria were met, a person may still be charged with assault and battery if the person they attacked, in self-defense, was no match for them physically. For example, it would be difficult for a grown man to claim self-defense if they struck a 12-year-old girl.
A second defense that can be made in an assault and battery charge is that of the defense of others. The guidelines for claiming defense of others in court are very similar to those that are used for claiming self-defense. The only difference is the defendant must be able to prove that they acted because they perceived a real and imminent threat to another person that caused them to act.
Defense of Property
There are some gray areas when it comes to using force to defend property. A person who is accused of assault and battery may be able to claim that they acted to defend their property either from being invaded in the case of a home invasion, or being legally withheld as in the case of having items stole by a pickpocket. However, the law limits the amount of force that can be used in a particular situation, and it does not always recognize the use of force when defending personal property is involved.
Consent is another defense that can be used in charges of assault and battery. If an individual volunteers to engage in an act, that act could not be considered assault and battery. For example, two boxers who agree to fight each other could not then turn around and accuse each other of assault and battery as long as the fight took place within the guidelines laid out by the law. Often times, consent is used as a defense in connection with sexual assault cases.
It is clear to see that an accusation of assault and battery is very complicated. The best defense is going to require intensive investigation and fact gathering. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Spodek Law Group understand the complexities associated with assault and battery defenses and have the experience, the know-how, and the manpower to gather necessary information, analyze this information, and create an appropriate defense.
Assault has different definitions from one state to another, but the general understanding is that it is an uninvited violation of an individual’s personal space. It is defined as the use of force or a threatening demeanor on another person. Putting an individual in fear for their safety constitutes assault. Some regions refer to it as assault, battery, or assault & battery. Note that in some states; physical contact is not necessary for an action to be termed as assault. Even an attempt to harm another person can get you in trouble. The charges that a defendant may face will, therefore, depend on the state and the circumstances.
Understanding Felony Assault
Felony assault is a serious crime, and it’s essential to comprehend what may lead to such charges. A misdemeanor charge involves a simple assault where contact may not have taken place. The crime here is that the accused made the victim fear for their life. Getting accused of misdemeanor assault carries a lighter punishment than felony charges. In New York, felony assault can either be Class D or the higher class B. For an assault case to be classified as a felony, it must involve some level of injury. Class D felony assault is considered second-degree where the injuries are not severe. First-degree assault is what falls under Class B, and this involves a significant amount of damages.
A case of felony assault must have proof that injuries were intentional or due to recklessness. In either class, a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument must have been used to cause the injuries. The definition of physical injury also varies from state to state. In NY, for example, damage must be physical, not mental. Other jurisdictions allow psychological trauma or stress to be part of a felony case.
When it comes to motive, an intentional case of assault is where the accused wanted to harm the victim. Note that even when the intended victim was not the one who got injured, the case carries the same weight.
Reckless behavior is defined as when a person neglected a substantial risk even when there was an awareness that it exists. In other words, an individual knows that doing this and that may cause an injury but still disregards it.
Four situations are used to classify first-degree assault:
• Causing serious physical injury by intentionally using a deadly weapon on another individual
• Intentionally disfiguring someone else or causing other permanent damage like amputation or dismembering
• Engaging in reckless conduct that leads to severe physical injury
• Causing serious injury while in the commission of another felony. For instance, hitting a homeowner when caught robbing their house.
A second-degree assault has twelve scenarios that vary from inflicting harm to a person performing a lawful duty to causing injury to an inmate in a correctional facility.
The punishment for felony assault depends on the severity of the crime and ranges from a prison sentence to a fine to probation. In New York, felony assaults come with indeterminate terms. It means that a prison sentence has a minimum and maximum duration and a judge can set the penalty within that range. Many elements will sway a judge’s decision. For instance, an individual who is not a persistent violent offender may get a sentence of one year or less. A Class B felony can generate a sentence of three or even 25 years, depending on the seriousness. Felony conviction fines don’t exceed $5,000, and the probation is five years.
Why You Need a Lawyer
A felony assault case can get complicated, especially when different variables are at play. When facing such charges, the expertise of an attorney will be invaluable. An attorney will look at all the facts and decide the defense that would be most suitable for your case. Note that being intoxicated cannot serve as a defense for reckless assault. It can be difficult to tell how much trouble you are in depending on the circumstances of your case. For example, an assault committed during self-defense takes an entirely new form, and you may only end up with probation. Some aspects like a prior conviction may impact your case negatively. An attorney has an in-depth understanding of the assault laws where the crime occurred, and that can help you reduce the punishment of your charges.
Having to face felony charges in NY can be a harrowing experience. Felonies are regarded as serious crimes that could result in significant prison time if you’re convicted. You may also lose certain rights that most people take for granted, such as the right to vote, the ability to purchase firearms or open a bank account. The five classes of New York felony charges range in severity from Class A felonies, which pertain to crimes such as murder and treason, to Class E felonies, which can include theft, aggravated harassment, assault and many others.
One thing is for certain: If you’re accused of committing a felony in New York, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That’s why you need a legal team in your corner that will protect and assert your rights. The Spodek Law Group has been providing impassioned legal representation for New Yorkers just like you since 1976. Our committed attorneys will aggressively pursue the best course of action for your particular situation, whether it’s attempting to have a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor, seeking a dismissal of the charges or mounting a vigorous defense in a criminal trial.
When you enlist the services of the Spodek Law Group, you get representation from a law firm that will always be there for you. We assign two attorneys to every criminal case, so you’ll always have someone to call in case of an emergency. Our loyalty and commitment to our clients is what separates us from other criminal law firms in New York.
At Spodek Law Group, we view all of our clients who are facing New York felony charges as people, not just case files. As a family owned and operated firm, we strive to make clients feel like members of our extended family.
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