Is an Aggravated Assault a Felony? Things You Must Know- Guest post

  

Felony Assault

Imagine you are walking down the street. You look behind you and there is someone wielding a metal stick. You duck as the person swings, and just in time. A third person restrains the assailant and you call the police.

At the police station, you hear the terms “assault” and “aggravated assault” being used.

“Assault?” You ask. “But no one touched me.”

Hopefully, you have never encountered this scenario, but these are good questions. What is an assault? What is an aggravated assault? This article defines the terms as well as breaks down the penalties for these crimes.

What is an Assault?

An assault is a physical action taken against another person. It requires the intent to do physical harm and to cause fear in the victim receiving immediate harm to his person. Even if the victim is only threatened without harm being caused to him, it is still considered to be an assault. If a police officer is made aware of the situation, they can arrest the assailant even if the victim has not been physically harmed at that point.

You may have heard the term “assault” along with “battery”. Battery is when a person is physically harmed by another individual. The term battery has been dropped in some modern statutes, so the term assault now carries both the intent and threat to do harm as well as the physical harming of an individual.

An example of an assault is if Person A, who is carrying a baseball bat, tells Person B, “I’m going to hit you with this baseball bat.” The police officer standing by can arrest Person A even though he has not harmed Person B.

Simple Assault vs Aggravated Assault

There are two types of assaults which differ based on whether the injury is considered minor or major.

A Simple Assault is when the threat of immediate physical harm leads to minor injuries. Typically, this requires the assaulter to use his own body to cause harm as opposed to an object, however, this depends on the circumstances. For example, if Person A punches Person B with his bare fist, this is likely considered to be a Simple Assault.

An Aggravated Assault is when the assault is aggravated by another factor, such as the use of a weapon, or the assault itself leads to major injuries. For example, if Person A uses a brick to attack Person B, this is likely considered to be an Aggravated Assault. In some states, an aggravated assault can include rape even if no other aggravating factor is used because of the severity of the crime itself.

Is Aggravated Assault a felony?

Felony Assault

In short, yes.

The punishment for an assault differs for Simple and Aggravated Assaults.

A Simple Assault is treated as a misdemeanor by most states. A misdemeanor includes jail time of up to a year and a fine of up to $2,500.00. The judge will take prior charges into consideration when determining the sentence.

An Aggravated Assault is treated as a felony by most states. A felony includes a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $20,000.00.

The Three Degrees of an Aggravated Assault Charge

There are gradations of an Aggravated Assault charge. Depending on aspects of the crime, including the severity of the injury and the method of inducing the aggravating factor, the sentence operates on a sliding scale. The increase of aggravating factors will lead to a larger fine and/or a longer prison sentence.

Third-degree charges are for those who commit an Aggravated Assault in a thoughtless or reckless manner. Because there is a lack of intent to commit the assault, the penalty receives a lesser sentence.

Second-degree charges are for those who intend to cause physical harm to another person, but without premeditated intent – they didn’t plan to commit the crime in advance of it occurring. For example, Person A gets angry at Person B and picks up a brick, and hits Person B. The action by Person A is spontaneous but with the intention of hurting Person B.

First-degree charges are for those who planned the assault and caused physical harm to another person. This charge carries the highest sentence because the assailant premeditated the assault and then carried it through.

Other Penalties for Committing an Assault

The following are penalties that a judge may decide to include as part of the sentence.

  • Serving a probationary period in which the assailant cannot commit other offenses.
  • Attend classes for anger management.
  • Issue a restraining order to protect the victim.
  • Require that the assailant pay for the damages caused by the assailant. These damages can cover the costs for both physical and emotional damages and injuries.

Conclusion

An assault requires the intention to inflict physical harm to another person, regardless of whether the action is carried out. If you have been charged with an assault or aggravated assault, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the charges and penalties.