Assault is a very serious crime. The penalties for assault charges will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the assault, as well as the state you’re in. Because assault is a violent crime, the punishments and ranges for sentences tend to be longer than those of non-violent crimes. Even when an assault was considered a minor incident, the punishments might be harsh because there’s a concern about an escalation of violence if another incident occurs.
The types of crimes that fit the “assault” definition vary depending on the state. Usually, people associate assault with acts of physical violence. That said, assault charges can also occur in cases where no physical attack or fight occurred. There are states that define assault as the unwanted touching of another individual, provided that the defendant was aware the victim did not wish to be touched.
Some states have separate “threat” statutes. These punish threats made against others, even if the threat doesn’t result in a physical assault. There are other states that include assault threats in their assault statutes, so threatening someone is considered a type of assault.
Regardless of the state, a victim doesn’t technically have to experience an injury or physical pain in order for a defendant to face an assault charge. But when an assault does result in minor injuries as opposed to major injuries, usually the assault charge will be of a less severe degree, and therefore carry less severe potential penalties.
When more serious injuries are done, or the victim is made to feel more serious levels of fear, the degree of assault will increase.
Again, the potential sentences will vary widely depending on the exact crime that was committed. Assault covers such a broad range that it’s hard to pinpoint one specific punishment. Minor assaults will usually qualify as a class A misdemeanor, depending on the state. A class A misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor.
Class A misdemeanors generally have a potential jail sentence of up to one year. They also come with potential fines and probation. The length of time of the probation, and the cost of the fines, will vary depending on the circumstances and the judge presiding over the case.
Most types of assault qualify as a felony. Class E felonies are the least severe type of felony, but they still carry potential prison sentences of up to three years. If you’re convicted of a class B or class A felony, you could be looking at twenty-five years to life in prison.
Because the penalties are so harsh, it’s essential that you get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer should be experienced practicing law in your state. If you’ve been charged with any federal crimes, your lawyer should also have experience with criminal defense on the federal level.
You might have additional charges leveled against you on top of the assault. This is especially common in severe cases. For example, you might be accused of multiple crimes if the assault involved a firearm. If someone was injured with the firearm, there are even more charges that could be brought against you.
Most states rely on having a statutory defense to an assault accusation. This means that the defense has been coded into the law or statute. If a person has a viable defense against the assault, they can plead not guilty to the assault. You might also be able to take a plea deal. This means that the case will not go to trial, but you will plead guilty to a lesser charge than you were originally accused of.
Your attorney will be able to explain your options and examine the situation to decide the best course of action going forward. They understand how the criminal justice system works, so you can rely on them.
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