Aggravated assault is a very serious offense that is considered a crime in every state. Every state punishes aggravated assault very seriously, even more so than simple assault, and assault charges can often result in felony convictions. If you or someone you know was injured in an aggravated assault case and want to press charges, you should seek the help of a personal injury attorney immediately. You could be due compensation and could see justice done by having the assaulter serve time.
What is Aggravated Assault?
Aggravated assault is an attempt to cause bodily injury to another individual or to purposely and recklessly cause serious bodily injury with a marked indifference to human life. Aggravated assault also includes the use of a deadly weapon to intentionally and knowingly cause serious bodily harm to another person. Aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon is punished more severely than assault.
What is the Difference Between Aggravated Assault and Assault?
Assault is any threat or willful attempt to cause serious injury to another person’s body. Assault can actually be committed without making contact with the other person’s body. If the threat is there and is perceived as a serious threat to the safety of the other person’s physical body, then it is considered assault. This could include threatening words and gestures without actually touching the other person. Several different factors can raise the charge from simple assault to aggravated assault.
One factor that can raise the charge from assault to aggravated assault is if a deadly weapon is used. A deadly weapon includes any weapon that can be used to inflict a serious or fatal injury. Guns and knives fall under the category of deadly weapons, but items that are not necessarily weapons can be considered deadly weapons as well. Any instrument being used in a dangerous way with an intention to inflict serious bodily harm or a fatal injury can be considered a deadly weapon at the time. Another way to go from assault to aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury considers the status of the victim.
Many states will prosecute any assault on an on-duty firefighter or police officer as aggravated assault rather than simple assault. It must be clear that the suspect knew the victim’s status to be such. Some states will also prosecute aggravated assault for an assault to a pregnant woman or elderly person. Assaults that take place in the victim’s home may also be considered aggravated assaults. If the assault takes place on a person in a protected minority class, the assault might be considered a hate crime if the suspect was motivated to assault the victim based on gender, race, religion, etc. This could also change the charge from assault to aggravated assault.
Intent also plays a big role in the difference between aggravated assault and simple assault. The suspect’s intent to inflict harm is usually taken into consideration, and more serious charges may be brought if the suspect’s intent was more serious. For example, a suspect who intends to inflict a fatal injury may be charged more seriously than a suspect who was threatening a less serious injury. Assault is the threat and intent to inflict serious harm, while aggravated assault often means the suspect also carried some type of weapon to make good on that threat. This raises the level of assault. One last factor that comes into play in determining whether the assault is aggravated or not is the level of injury the victim sustains.
Assault always involves the threat of serious bodily harm, but varying degrees of charges may be brought based on the severity of the victim’s injuries. If the victim dies, or is disfigured, or sustains an injury requiring substantial medical care, then the charge will be classified as aggravated assault. In every single state, if a deadly weapon is used in the assault, then it is automatically classified as an aggravated assault.
What is Considered to be Serious Bodily Injury?
Serious bodily injury is considered much more serious than a mere physical injury. It is considered serious bodily injury when the injury involves a grave risk of death, extreme physical pain, unconsciousness, the threat of obvious disfigurement, or severe loss or impairment of a major part, function, or organ of the body.
Degrees of Aggravated Assault
The varying degrees of aggravated assault convictions vary according to state laws. Generally, it is considered first degree aggravated assault if the act was committed with premeditation and malice aforethought. Second degree aggravated assault typically includes when the assault is committed without premeditation or forethought. Third degree and fourth degree aggravated assault charges can be given for lesser offenses, like when the suspect intends to inflict significant rather than serious bodily harm to the victim.
Penalties of Aggravated Assault
Penalties for aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury vary slightly state to state, but in each case, these are very serious charges. Penalties vary based on the degree of assault and the level of injury sustained by the victim. In some states, the aggravated assault may be charged as a misdemeanor, and in others a felony. In some states, the minimum fines for lesser convictions start at $150 and jail time may range from four months up to one full year in county jail. However, for charges that are more serious and in states that prosecute more heavily, aggravated assault convictions can result in fines around $10,000 and as many as 15 years served in prison.
Sentences may vary based on whether or not the suspect seems remorseful and whether he or she carries a prior criminal record. The severity of the victim’s injuries and the weapon used can also influence the sentencing for an aggravated assault conviction. Other penalties might include probation, electronic monitoring, the loss of right to own a weapon, forced attendance at anger management classes, fees for court costs and more. An aggravated assault conviction can have very serious repercussions for the rest of the convicted person’s life. Many employers will not hire someone with an aggravated assault charge, especially if the conviction resulted in a felony. A felony charge may affect job and rental home prospects for the rest of the person’s life.
Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.