Violent crimes carry with them a severe stigma. It’s not enough that the accused violated a law – he or she had to hurt someone at the same time. Assault is one of those crimes that people hear about, but with which many are not entirely familiar. If you have been accused of the crime, it’s time you begin to educate yourself on exactly what an assault charge can mean for you. There are several different types of assault, each of which carries its own unique set of penalties. Once you’re aware of what you might be facing, you’ll certainly understand why you need to contact a lawyer to start mounting a strong defense.
What is Assault
Assault is a more complex crime than you might think. Indeed, what most people think of as assault really isn’t assault, according to the state of New York. As with all crimes, assault is very specific and must satisfy certain elements for an individual to be found guilty of the crime.
The crime of assault can be separated into a number of levels. What unites all of the levels of assault is that harm is caused to another person. It is reasonable, then, to consider assault to be the charge on which all other violent crimes are built.
Two types of assault, first degree and second degree tend to require that the accused have the intention to cause harm. Third degree assault (and, in some cases, second degree assault) requires only that the accused acted in a negligent manner that was likely to cause harm to the victim. There is another crime, aggravated assault, that takes the elements of the other assault crime and adds the stipulation that the accused was using a weapon. No matter what the case, though, the important part is that some kind of physical harm happened to the victim due to the fault of the accused.
Penalties for Assault in New York
As there are several different types of assault, so too are there several different penalties for those who are found guilty. The penalties can range within the charges themselves, leaving a wide range of possibilities for those who are found guilty.
If you are charged with third degree assault, the crime is classified as a misdemeanor. It is possible to receive up to one year in jail, but this usually doesn’t happen on a first offense. Instead, one can receive up to three years on probation. There are also often fines of up to one thousand dollars for those who commit third degree assault.
Second degree assault’s penalties are a bit more serious. Second degree assault is punishable by up to seven years in jail. This is a felony, and it can greatly impact your life once you are free. Like third degree assault, it also comes with potential probation time and fines.
First degree assault carries with it the most serious penalties. First degree assault carries with it a penalty of up to twenty-five years in prison. Probation is unlikely in these cases, but monetary fines are almost certain. This is a serious felony, one that can follow you for the rest of your life.
Once you’ve been found guilty of assault, you will be branded as a violent felon. This can stop you from getting a job, even if you’ve been released. It also carries with it penalties on being able to serve on a jury or being able to own a firearm. While assault may not necessarily seem like the most serious crime in the world, it is one that can follow you around even after you have satisfied the demands of the court.
Defenses to Assault
There are a limited number of affirmative defenses to assault. The accused can try to show that he or she was acting in self-defense or that he or she was under emotional distress. These defenses require that the accused prove that his or her actions were undertaken only under those circumstances.
The more likely defenses involve a lawyer proving that the accused’s actions didn’t actually satisfy the requirements of the charge. They can show that he or she didn’t intentionally or negligently cause the action or that the harm caused to the victim didn’t rise to the level required by the statute. These defenses are far more common and only require that the defense raise a reasonable doubt to the prosecution’s argument.
Assault is a very serious crime. If you have been accused of it, it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. You might spend years or even decades in jail if you are convicted and that might only be the start of your problems. Always make sure to work with a good attorney if you are accused of a crime – your future might depend on it.
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