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.
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