Being charged with assault is serious. In nearly every situation, this type of charge carries the risk of jail time, fines, and long-term probation. However, there are various levels of assault charges. If you are facing a charge like this, the first step is to contact an experienced defense attorney to represent you throughout the entire process. Here is what you should know about what you are facing.
What Is Assault and Battery?
Assault and battery laws can differ state to state. However, these charges most often occur when a person physically strikes another person or tries to do so. You can also be charged if you act in a threatening manner that directly makes another person feel as if they are in immediate danger.
Aggravated assault and battery is a more serious charge. This occurs when someone causes severe injury to another person through their actions or attempts to severely injure another. When a person causes injury to another person using a deadly weapon, they can also be charged with aggravated assault and battery.
Keep in mind that assault and battery charges can be filed in many instances. For example, if you simply shove someone, it can lead to charges under common law. It may not seem fair, but if the individuals feared for their safety, they can bring charges against you. Legal action may be pursued.
It is also important to know that assault can include both civil and criminal actions in a court of law. This means that even if the police do not pursue criminal action against you, the victim may decide to file a lawsuit against you. This may occur if there is significant financial loss evident.
Assault and battery are separate legal concepts. An assault is defined as an attempt to injure another person. This can include threats or using behavior that is threatening to another person. For charges of assault to lead to a conviction, typically, the prosecutor must show that some criminal act took place. This is the case even when physical contact has not occurred.
Assault includes any type of overt or direct act that causes a reasonable person to feel their safety is at risk. In short, for assault to occur, it is not enough that someone receives a verbal threat unless the individual takes action along with their threat that implies imminent harm.
Battery is a type of intentional offense or touching another person in a harmful manner without that individual’s consent. To be charged with battery, there must be some form of intentional touching occurring through which the victim did not consent. Additionally, the touching must be harmful, such as a punch or a kick. However, the victim does not need to suffer injuries to file battery charges against you.
It is common for charges of assault and battery to occur together. However, this does not always happen.
Defending Against Charges of Assault
If you are charged with or you commit an assault, the first step is to request an attorney. When possible, avoid speaking to the police. The police are there to understand what occurred and to place blame. Unless you clearly did not commit any action that could be considered assault or battery, you should request an attorney. Your attorney will then help you describe to law enforcement what occurred, why it happened, and what your role in the matter was.
Misdemeanor and Felony Assault
Misdemeanor assault charges are typically pursued when an individual fears being hurt, but no injury has occurred, only threats have been made. If an individual kicks another person, but the individual does not suffer significant physical harm, it may be categorized as a misdemeanor as well. However, a more serious charge is possible if the individual intended to cause life-threatening injuries.
A felony assault charge may occur in some cases. In this case, the victim suffered a serious injury from the assault. An individual may be charged with a felony assault if they had a dangerous weapon when the incident occurred. You can be on the receiving end of a felony assault charge if you take harmful or offensive actions against a police officer, health care practitioner, a firefighter, a teacher, or public servant. If you are convicted of an assault, as a felony, you can spend up to 15 years behind bars.
What Should You Do If Charged with Assault?
If you are facing assault or battery charges, you have the legal right to an attorney. Request one immediately. It is best to hire an experienced attorney who will specifically represent you and work to prove your innocence in a court of law. Criminal justice attorneys are there to support your needs.
In cases involving assault, the prosecutor will need a significant amount of evidence to pursue the claim. For this reason, if you are charged with assault, this often means they have evidence or believe they will. Any type of offensive contact can lead to a wide range of complications within your case.
The goal of working with an attorney is to find ways to minimize the charges. There are options for doing this. For example, sometimes assault occurs as an act of self-defense. You may be able to claim you were trying to defend others from the actions of the victim. Allegations of assault can be hard to prove without witnesses, which can make it hard for charges to stick. Sometimes, mistaken identity can be a key component to your case.
If you are facing charges of assault or battery for any situation contact our legal team. At West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman, our criminal defense attorneys are here to help you defend your case. Contact our team for a consultation immediately.