This article is written by Sneha Mahawar. This article includes the elements, penalties, defenses, degrees, and differences between assault and battery.
It has been published by Rachit Garg.
The term “assault” has been derived from two Latin terms, “ad” and “salire,” which mean “towards” and “to leap or jump,” respectively. According to tort, assault is an act that causes someone to apprehend imminent bodily harm. It is an act that causes fear in the mind of another person without any kind of physical contact. Assault is commonly defined as a deliberate act that is intended to cause apprehension or fear in the mind of the victim. This states that the person committing the act need not have made any physical contact with the sufferer.
As per the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, “Aggravated assault is an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury.” According to the UCR Program, aggravated assault involves the use of a weapon or other methods that can result in death or cause serious bodily harm. Aggravated assaults are where a gun, knife, or other weapon is displayed or threatened to be used that would probably cause serious injury. When burglaries and aggravated assaults occur simultaneously, the crime is classified as robbery.
In the US, an estimated 821,182 aggravated assaults occurred nationwide in 2019. In comparison to the 2018 estimate and the 2010 estimate, the estimated number of aggravated assaults increased by 1.3 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively.
Under US Law, degrees of assault are mainly of three degrees, i.e., First Degree Assault, Second Degree Assault, and Third Degree Assault. But it may vary from state to state. In some states, there is also a fourth-degree assault. Under what degree an act of assault will fall depends upon a case’s circumstances. An act of assault can be done by a person without laying a hand on the other person. It is a voluntary act committed by the offender.
Elements that made the assault “aggravated”
The prosecutor must establish all factors of the crime, including the act of assault and the factors that made the assault “aggravated,” beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction for aggravated assault. Charges may be dropped or reduced from aggravated to simple assault if the assault or “aggravating” elements are not proven.
The prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant either attempted a physical attack or purposefully threatened an attack and made the victim apprehensive. Additionally, the prosecution must show that the defendant used a dangerous weapon, caused severe injuries, conducted the assault in support of another serious crime, or specifically targeted a victim who belonged to a protected class.
Aggravated assault involves intentionally using or threatening to use violence or force against another where-
- the assault causes severe or significant bodily harm;
- the attacker possessed or used a deadly weapon; or
- the victim belonged to a class that was protected.
The aggravated assault caused severe or significant bodily harm
When someone threatens or inflicts mild to severe bodily harm, such as bruising, soreness, or a cut lip, simple assault charges may be brought. However, when a crime poses a risk of death or causes serious, significant, or considerable bodily harm, aggravating penalties are inflicted. Aggravated assault is said to have taken place when injuries must be permanent, life-threatening, significant enough to inflict long-term pain, require several stitches, or necessitate surgery in order to qualify as severe assault. Aggravated assault also includes injuries that leave behind lasting scars, a limp, or the loss of physical function.
Aggravated assault where the attacker used or possessed a deadly weapon
If the assailant had a weapon and threatened to use it or actually used it during the assault, he could be charged with aggravated assault under the laws of the state. Further, a state may distinguish between simple assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A weapon that has the potential to kill or seriously injure someone is considered deadly. By definition, deadly weapons are those that can cause great bodily harm, such as a gun and a large knife. When used in a way that poses a severe risk of death or serious physical harm, other objects, including rocks, stones, or even a human body part, can qualify as dangerous weapons.
Aggravated assault where the victim belonged to a class that was protected
If the victim belongs to a protected class, several states consider a simple assault to be an aggravated assault. Typically, these protected victims are those who hold sensitive or risky jobs, such as first responders, judges, inmates, and jail staff. In some states, there are additional vulnerable victims, such as elderly people or people targeted because of bias or hatred.
Penalties for aggravated assault
Penalties for aggravated assault vary from the legislation of state to state and the circumstances of the crime. In general, aggravated assault is a felony punishable by a minimum of 1–5 years in prison and a maximum of a life term in prison. While awarding a punishment or delivering a verdict, the judges also take into account the circumstances of the crime, the victim, the injury caused, the defendant’s past record, and repentance. A first-time offender will normally receive a sentence at the low end of the range, while a repeat offender will typically receive a sentence at the high end. Usually, the severity of the punishment increases with the severity of the harm or injury inflicted.
Aggravated assault carries very serious charges in every state of the US; however, the penalties vary from state to state. The severity of the assault and the victim’s injuries determine the appropriate penalties. A person convicted of aggravated assault may be charged with a felony in some states and a misdemeanor in others. For less serious offenses of aggravated assault, the minimum fine in some states is $150, while the maximum jail sentence is one year. However, for more serious offenses and accusations of aggravated assault, convictions can result in fines of approximately $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison in states that prosecute more vigorously.
Based on the suspect’s level of repentance and whether or not they have a criminal background, sentences may vary. The sentence for an aggravated assault conviction might also be impacted by the severity of the victim’s injuries and the weapon involved. Penalty not only refers to imprisonment and fines but also includes loss of the ability to possess a weapon, paying of costs and court fees, compulsory anger management sessions, probation, electronic monitoring, etc.
An offense of aggravated assault is a criminal offense and would have significant lifetime repercussions and consequences on the offender’s life. For instance, it would be extremely difficult for the offender to get hired by any good firm as most reputable institutions will not hire an individual with a criminal record, specifically if the individual was convicted of a felony.
Many states in the US classify felonies into subcategories such as A, B, and C classes or 1, 2, and 3 levels in order to determine penalties award sentences. Other states determine penalties on a crime-by-crime basis, and one can find the punishment and penalty specified for the criminal act in the criminal legislation. Some states also undertake a hybrid approach by classifying offenses as either first, second, or third-degree or as unclassified.
Classification of penalties by class, level, or degree for aggravated assault
Class A, Class 1 and Level 1 felonies
Under this category, Class A, Class 1, and Level 1 felonies may be imposed with the death penalty or life in prison in various states. However, other states, on the other hand, adopt Class A, Class 1, and Level 1 felonies to impose the longest prison term in years, such as 30 to 40 years in prison.
Class B, Class 2 and Level 2 felonies
Under this category, Class B, Class 2, and Level 2 felonies, the actual penalty imposed is based on a variety of factors such as circumstances of the crime, the victim, injury caused, the defendant’s past record, and repentance. When a penalty has to be imposed, judges have a great deal of discretion and can generally impose any term up to the maximum permitted by the law of that state of the country. In Class B, Class 2, or Level 2 felony carries a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison.
Class C, Class 3 and Level 3 felonies
Under this category, Class C, Class 3, and Level 3 felonies, a sentence handed out by a judge is based on a variety of factors, such as circumstances of the crime, the victim, injury caused, the defendant’s past record, and repentance. Class C, Class 3, or Level 3 felony carries a maximum sentence of 10–15 years in prison.
Class D, Class 4 and Level 4 felonies
Under this category, Class D, Class 4, and Level 4 felonies, a sentence handed out by a judge is based on a variety of factors such as circumstances of the crime, the victim, injury caused, the defendant’s past record, and repentance. Class D, Class 4, or Level 4 felony carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Class E, Class 5 and Level 5 felonies
Under this category, Class E, Class 5, and Level 5 felonies, a sentence handed out by a judge is based on a variety of factors such as circumstances of the crime, the victim, injury caused, the defendant’s past record, and repentance. Class E, Class 5, and Level 5 felonies carry a maximum prison sentence of only 1 to 5 years.
Penalties on a crime-by-crime basis
In US states, the punishment and sentence stipulated for each crime are listed in the criminal statute of several states where the penalty is decided on a crime-by-crime basis. For instance, a statute against arson would state that anyone found guilty of the crime is subject to a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
A penalty by hybrid approaches
Some states in the US also undertake a hybrid approach by classifying offenses as either first, second, or third-degree or as unclassified. A hybrid approach is the perfect combination of both felony penalties by class, level, or degree and felony penalty on a crime-by-crime basis. Under this category, states subcategories class, level and degree for most offenses and also list the punishment and sentence for some crimes in the statutes defining such criminal acts.
Will aggravated assault result in jail or prison time
The terms, jail and prison, are two very distinct terminologies of the criminal justice system. Individuals who are on trial or detained for being a suspect or are serving sentences of less than a year are often confined in jails, while criminal offenders serving sentences of more than a year are generally confined in prisons. Jails serve primarily as a place to lock people away on a temporary basis, whereas prisons are to detain a criminal offender for a long term.
While awarding a punishment or delivering a verdict, the judges also take into account the defenses raised by the defendant at a trial, such as circumstances of the crime, the victim, injury caused, the type of weapon used, the defendant’s past criminal record, and repentance. In some scenarios, the judges also take into consideration the background of the victim and the victim’s relationship with the accused. The duration of the sentence and whether any part of it can be served on probation rather than in prison are left up to the judge’s discretion. However, because aggravated assault is a violent offense, the majority of those found guilty will serve time in jail or prison.
Defenses available to all criminal defendants in an aggravated assault case
An alibi defense is one based on evidence that a defendant was not present at the scene of the crime when it happened, that the accused was elsewhere, and so could not be the guilty. To establish an alibi defense, the defense can summon witnesses to the stand and provide evidence during the trial.
Self defense is the pleading made by the defendant where the defendant claims that the alleged victim initiated the conflict and that the defendant was defending himself against the attack by the alleged victim.
Protection of another
The defendant claims that the alleged victim initiated the conflict and that the defendant was protecting other indiviadual/s against the attack by the alleged victim. Thus, the defendant made a move against the alleged victim for the protection of others and not with the intention to cause any harm or injury.
According to the general rule of criminal law, a person cannot be convicted for a crime that was unintentional. However, the prosecution must establish that the defendant acted accidentally and without mens rea, or malicious intent. In accordance with the general rule, accidents are not considered to be assaults; nevertheless, intentional, knowingly conducted, or reckless acts may be. The prosecution must show that the defendant assaulted the victim intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly.
For example, if someone purposefully shoved someone, even though they had no intention of injuring them, that person most likely committed assault.
The victim made the first move
The defendant contends that the victim initiated the dispute and suffered injuries as a result of that dispute. Here, the prosecutor must establish that the victim had possession of a weapon, or made the initial threat, or struck the initial blow.
Intoxication is used as a legal defense by the defendant in certain circumstances because it hinders a person’s ability to act as a prudent man. Furthermore, the defendant must have no intention of doing such an act. However, intoxication should not be voluntary, which means that the defendant should not have voluntarily agreed to be intoxicated. In addition, he should not be aware that he was given an intoxicating substance.
Lack of evidence
If there is insufficient evidence to support the alleged victim’s claim, the accused cannot be convicted. In such circumstances, lack of evidence might be used as a legal defense.
Difference between assault and battery
Historically, battery and assault were considered to be separate offenses since, in a battery, the victim had to be physically struck or subjected to inappropriate touch. A battery is an “executed” assault in this perspective. The term “assault and battery” has become as common as “salt and pepper,” which is an indication that many modern statutes do not differentiate between the two offenses. Nowadays, offenses involving actual physical violence are often referred to as assaults in legislation.
However, battery and assault are two separate but strongly linked offenses, with assault being an act that puts another person in immediate fear of bodily injury and battery being the unlawful use of physical force against another.
|Basis of distinction
|Assault is a deliberate act that is intended to cause apprehension or fear in the mind of the victim.
|Battery is an unlawful use of physical force against another.
|There is no need for physical contact.
|There must be physical contact.
|To cause apprehension or fear in the mind of the victim.
|To injure or harm the victim.
Difference between aggravated assault and assault
A person who intentionally harms another is guilty of assault, assault and battery, and aggravated assault. Ordinarily, any offense that involves a physical assault or even the threat of one is categorized as either an assault, a battery, or both. An assault may qualify as aggravated assault depending on the severity of the assault or the kind of weapon used. According to the severity of the harm caused, many states categorize assaults as either simple or aggravated in their respective criminal statutes.
|Basis of distinction
|Assault is a deliberate act that is intended to cause apprehension or fear in the mind of the victim.
|Aggravated assault is an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury.
|Assaults are classified as misdemeanors.
|Aggravated assaults are classified as felonies.
|Punishment and penalty
|Assault is a criminal offense for which a penalty of a small fine and punishment of little to no jail time may be imposed.
|Aggravated assault is a criminal offense for which a huge penalty and punishment of lengthy prison sentences may be imposed.
|Assault includes minor injuries, creating fear in the mind, touching, and threatening words or behavior.
|Aggravated assault includes serious injuries or the use of weapons to cause injury.
|A person lifting his or her fist towards another as if to strike shall be considered assault even if he or she does not actually strike or injure another.
|Late at night, a lady is walking alone when a man suddenly appears in front of her and takes her into the bushes. The man punches her several times and starts ripping her clothes. Fortunately, the lady strikes the man with a rock and flees to safety. Because the circumstances indicate that the man assaulted the lady with the purpose to rape her, he is guilty of aggravated assault.
What makes an assault an aggravated assault
Prosecutors may charge someone with assault or aggravated assault depending on:-
- how the victim was injured;
- severity of the injuries.
A person may be charged with assault for intentionally causing injury to someone or for threatening to injure someone. However, if a person used a “deadly weapon” while threatening injury, it would likely elevate the charge to an aggravated assault. A person may be charged with aggravated assault for inflicting serious bodily injury or threatening someone with a deadly weapon.
A simple assault charge can be elevated to an aggravated assault charge in the instance of a victim who is a peace officer, such as a police officer or a firefighter. In addition, an attack on a pregnant woman may be elevated to aggravated assault.
Judges have some discretion in determining a specific sentence. A lower sentence entails that the court articulate “mitigating” circumstances, whereas a higher sentence necessitates the establishment of “aggravating” factors.
- Prior convictions
- Vulnerable victim
- Hate crime
- Severe injury
- Planned offense
- No prior criminal record
- Extreme mental or emotional disturbance at the time of the crime
- Belief that the crime was justified
- Small role in the crime
- Old age or minor
- Act under threat or force
Degrees of aggravated assault
If the crime took place with criminal intent and premeditation, it is generally defined as first-degree aggravated assault. Whereas second-degree aggravated assault is referred to assaults that are carried out without intent, i.e., malice. Charges of third-degree and fourth-degree aggravated assault may be brought for less serious crimes, such as when the accused aims to cause the victim substantial rather than serious physical harm.
An intentional act, including prior planning by the offender, is first-degree aggravated assault. The offender must have intended to cause grave bodily harm or have made an attempt to do so. When someone willfully uses a deadly weapon to inflict significant injury or death to another person, it is considered an aggravated assault in the first degree. A criminal may also face first-degree aggravated assault charges if they expose, administer, or transmit poison, HIV, or other dangerous material to any individual.
Second-degree aggravated assault is the legal term for intentional conduct without prior planning. This considers the offender’s mental condition at the scene of the assault. A few instances that fall under the broad definition of second-degree assault are strangling another individual, hurting an unborn child, delivering poison with the intent to injure, etc. A defendant must act with the intent to assault and recklessly cause serious bodily damage in order to be charged with second-degree assault.
Third-degree assault is regarded as a wobbler offense in some US states. The expression “wobbler offense” refers to crimes that, based on the circumstances of the particular case, may be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors. In a maximum number of cases related to aggravated assault of the third degree, the prosecutor decides whether to charge the defendant with a felony or a misdemeanor.
Third-degree assault is regarded as the least serious form of aggravated assault under US law because it calls for no premeditated conduct. Repeat assault charges, which could have major repercussions, are some circumstances that could make a third-degree assault accusation into a felony offense. In other cases, a defendant is typically charged with assault in the third degree when they assault a public worker, such as a police officer, bus driver, nurse, court employee, or firefighter. Assault in the third degree occurs when a public servant is attacked while performing their official duties, such as driving a school bus or maintaining peace.
When someone attempts to physically hurt another person and, as a result, establishes contact that the victim finds offensive, the act is classified as a fourth-degree assault. The most frequent assault charges a person may encounter are those of the fourth degree. A person may also be prosecuted with 4th-degree assault if they accuse someone else of domestic violence, making minor threats of harm, or making the victim fear for their life.
A 4th-degree assault charge is brought against a person when they are alleged to have assaulted a particular group of persons. Most people are under the assumption that this is a felony by default. However, unless there is proof of a specific level of harm, it is presumed that it is a gross misdemeanor. The least serious assault charge one can get is 4th-degree assault. It might, however, have serious repercussions. In a nutshell, a 4th-degree assault is any assault where there is demonstrable harm to a member of a protected class.
Aggravated assault laws by states of US
When someone willfully, recklessly, or negligently causes physical harm to another person, it is termed as an assault in Alabama. The risk and severity of the harm involved are considered when the state distinguishes between misdemeanor and felony assaults. In Alabama, felony assault is classified as either a first- or second-degree offense, and misdemeanor assault is classified as a third-degree offense.
When someone deliberately or carelessly causes physical harm to another person, it is considered an assault in Alaska. The state distinguishes between misdemeanors and felony assaults, the latter is more serious. In Alaska, felony assault is broken down into three categories:
- assault in the first degree;
- assault in the second degree; and
- assault in the third degree;
- fourth-degree assault is regarded as a misdemeanor.
In Arizona, an individual is regarded as an aggravated assaulter when he commits misdemeanor assault plus one of the following:
- causing major physical injury to another individual;
- usage of a deadly weapon or any other kind of hazardous tool while committing the crime;
- using any kind of force that results in a body part being injured, a body part being significantly impaired, or a body part being temporarily but significantly disfigured;
- trespassing with the intention to commit the assault;
- assaulting a minor i.e., 15 years old with a weapon while the assaulter is at least of 18 years;
- intentionally interfering with a protective order by making a physical contact with another indiviadual with the motive to injure, insult, or provoke them;
- attempting to obtain control of certain officers’ firearms, weapons, or implements is a form of aggravated assault, if the defendant knows or has reason to believe that the individual is an officer and the officer is performing official duties;
- assaulting an individual while jailed or under one‘s custody who works for the state department of corrections, the department of juvenile corrections, a law enforcement agency, or a county or city jail or detention facility, provided the defendant is aware of or has a reasonable belief that the victim is acting in the course of their employment;
- if the assault is the result of the victim’s official obligations, the offense is still classified as aggravated assault. For instance, waiting until a police officer is “off-duty” before punching him or her in retribution for a speeding ticket is still constituted as aggravated assault.
An assault in Arkansas occurs when a person willfully causes a victim to fear immediate harm or engages in conduct that puts another person in danger. If the conduct causes physical harm, Arkansas considers it a battery.
Assault is defined in Arkansas as any purposeful conduct that causes the victim to fear, or puts the victim in danger of imminent physical harm. The more significant the potential injury, the harsher the penalty. The facts of the case determine whether an assault can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
In California, assault is defined as an intentional attempt to physically injure another or a hostile or threatening act or speech that gives the other person the impression that they are about to be attacked. However, there is no actual physical contact between the offender and the victim in such an offense.
In California, someone who commits a simple assault or battery is normally prosecuted with a misdemeanor, while certain assault and battery charges might be tried as either a misdemeanor or a felony at the prosecutor’s discretion. When a simple assault or battery is prosecuted as a felony, the court has the authority to reduce the crime to a misdemeanor during the course of the prosecution.
In Colorado, there are three levels of assault, but only the first and second levels are serious enough to be deemed aggravated assault. Both are felonies, while third-degree assault is a misdemeanor. Aggravated assault includes first and second-degree assault, which means the accused planned or inflicted grievous physical injury, used a dangerous weapon, or injured a peace officer or other protected class of person in the line of duty.
In Connecticut, assault is defined as knowingly or negligently causing physical harm to another person. The state categorizes assault charges based on the severity of the resulting harm, the offender’s conduct and intent, and the victim targeted.
Connecticut classifies assault charges into three levels, with first-degree assault being the most serious and third-degree assault being the least serious. Assault offenses can vary from a misdemeanor to a felony.
In Florida, an aggravated assault can result in harsh felony consequences, including mandatory jail time. These offenses usually entail an assault with a weapon, or they result in serious bodily harm. Repeat battery offenses, battery to advance a riot, and domestic battery by strangulation all carry felony penalties under the law. Assault or on a vulnerable victim carries harsher punishment.
In Georgia, aggravated assault is a crime. It is defined as an assault that involves the use of a dangerous weapon, any instrument that can cause substantial bodily harm or strangulation, or the discharge of a firearm from a moving vehicle, with the purpose to rob, rape, or kill.
In Hawaii, an attack is considered as an aggravated assault when someone hurts another person physically without being justified in doing so. The most serious assault offense, assault in the first degree is a Class B felony. Second-degree assault is a Class C felony. A misdemeanor is a third-degree assault.
In Idaho, assault is defined as an intentional act to physically harm another person, such as making an unsuccessful strike with an object or otherwise. Intentional acts or threats that reasonably arouse fear of impending violence are also considered assault. If the aggressor looks to have the power to carry out the threat and the victim believes or reasonably could believe that he is about to be attacked or hurt, then it constitutes assault.
An assault becomes an aggravated assault:
- if the offender is hooded or robed with the intention to conceal his identity;
- a deadly weapon is used by the offender;
- if the offender uses an object which looks like a real firearm;
- when the offender operates a vehicle in a way that creates fear in the mind of the victim; or
- when the offender knowingly records the assault with the intention to disseminate the recording.
Furthermore, simple assault turns into aggravated assault if it occurs in certain locations, such as places of worship, public roads, or public places, or if it’s committed against protected individuals.
In Kansas, aggravated assault is a level 7 felony. An offense with a severity level of 6 is an aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer who is wearing a uniform or who is properly identifiable and performing his duties. In Kansas, aggravated assault is an assault that is committed:
- by using a deadly weapon;
- if the offender is hooded or robbed with the intention to conceal his identity;
- when a felony is committed with an intention.
In Kentucky, it is an assault when someone intentionally harms another person physically. First, second, and third-degree assaults in Kentucky are felonies in Class B, C, and D range, while fourth-degree assault is a misdemeanor.
The severity of the victim’s harm, whether the defendant intended to inflict the injury, and whether Kentucky law provides the victim with special protection are among the several degrees or levels of assault.
In Louisiana, assault is defined as an intentional act to physically harm another person, such as making an unsuccessful strike with an object or otherwise. Intentional acts or threats that reasonably arouse fear of impending violence are also considered assault. A threat to attack or hurt someone with words alone is not considered an assault, but if the threat is accompanied by the appearance of the ability to follow through on it and gives the victim grounds to believe that he is about to be hit or hurt, that is considered an assault.
In Michigan, assault is an intentional act to physically harm another person, such as making an unsuccessful strike with an object or otherwise. Intentional acts or threats that reasonably arouse fear of impending violence are also considered assault.
When an assault is performed with the aim to kill, cause serious bodily harm, or to commit another felony, like kidnapping or robbery, it is a felony offense. When committed against specific victims, such as a worker for a human services organization, a police officer, or a pregnant woman, assault or battery is also a felony. Additionally, using a firearm or any deadly weapon in an assault or battery is a felony.
In Mississippi, a charge of aggravated assault may be filed by prosecutors in the following situations:
- when a serious bodily injury is caused to another person;
- when an intentionally serious bodily injury is caused to another while acting with extreme indifference to human life;
- when someone uses a deadly weapon and causes bodily injury to another person which could cause death or serious bodily injury, or
- when someone causes injury to a minor who while he was boarding or exiting a school bus and the offender has failed to stop for the bus according to traffic laws.
Taking into account the victim’s age, profession, and the offender’s intent, aggravated assault in Mississippi is a felony punishable by up to sixty years in prison or a year in jail.
In Missouri, assault is committed when:
- a person who intentionally causes another individual physical harm or attempts to do so is guilty of assault;
- a person can assault someone by making offensive or provocative physical contact with them; or
- a person can assault someone if they cause apprehension of fear in mind.
Aggravated assault is the legal term for felony assault in Montana, and those convicted might face harsh punishments like hefty fines and lengthy sentences in state prison. When physical contact causes or may reasonably be expected to cause substantial permanent deformities, such as severe facial scars from boiling water or acid, or when a part of the body or organ is lost for an extended period of time, it is considered an aggravating assault. The loss must not only be substantial but also irreparable.
In Nevada, assault is an intentional act to physically harm another person, such as making an unsuccessful strike with an object or otherwise. Intentional acts or threats that reasonably arouse fear of impending violence are also considered assault. An assault is not just based on words. However, an attack has been committed if the criminal also makes a frightening gesture, like approaching the victim or raising a fist.
In New Jersey, it is considered an assault when someone intentionally hurts or tries to hurt another person. Simple assault or aggravated assault are two possible charges for assault. The severity of the victim’s injuries, whether a weapon or other object was used to inflict the injury, and if New Jersey law offers a victim additional protection are some of the elements that determine the different levels of assault.
New Jersey law defines a number of instances that constitute aggravated assault:
- The injury must have been caused either intentionally, deliberately, or carelessly.
- Injury caused when a defendant acted under “ways that show excessive disregard for the worth of human life.”
- The use of deadly weapons.
Unless there are aggravating factors, such as the use of a dangerous weapon, or when an individual engages in an assault with the intent to conduct a serious felony, assault in New Mexico is often a misdemeanor. In New Mexico, assault with the intent to commit a violent offense is a third-degree felony punishable by a lengthy prison sentence, probation, and penalties.
In New York, injuring another person without cause is considered an assault. A Class D felony or a more serious Class B felony prosecution for assault is possible. The degree of the victim’s injuries, the use of a weapon or other item, whether the defendant caused the harm while conducting another crime, and whether the victim is entitled to special protection under New York law are all considerations that affect the different categories of assault.
Aggravated assault happens when the victim in some way provokes the offender’s heightened emotional state or sudden anger at the time of the offense. It occurs when:
- the offender injures the victim or the victim’s unborn child by inflicting severe physical harm, or
- the offender uses a dangerous weapon or firearm to injure the victim or the victim’s unborn child or attempts to do so.
In Pennsylvania, assault is a criminal offense that can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. When someone strikes another person physically, it is considered an assault. A felony assault, often known as aggravated assault, covers assaults against certain protected public officers or workers, as well as assaults that result in substantial bodily harm to another person.
Any assault in Rhode Island that uses a deadly weapon or causes substantial physical harm qualifies as a felony assault. Additionally, Rhode Island elevates simple assault to felony assault when committed: Additionally, when done with specific intent or for a specific reason against vulnerable victims or against certain public officials, Rhode Island escalates simple assault to felony assault.
Aggravated assault is a crime in South Dakota that is committed when someone intentionally causes or attempts to intentionally cause substantial bodily harm to another person, uses a hazardous weapon to inflict harm, or puts another person in danger of suffering serious bodily harm. Aggravated violence against an unborn child or an infant, assaulting a member of law enforcement or a correctional officer, or engaging in simple assault if you have two prior convictions for specific assault crimes are all felonies in South Dakota.
A simple assault that involves the use or exhibition of a dangerous weapon is also known as an aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is committed in Tennessee if:
- purposefully, carelessly, or knowingly causes severe bodily harm to another individual;
- attempts to intentionally or knowingly harm another person by strangling;
- is a parent or guardian of a child or adult, and fails or declines to protect the kid or adult from a serious assault or serious child abuse;
- intentionally or knowingly causes or attempts to cause bodily harm to another, or engages in or attempts to engage in an assault while in violation of a court order, diversion plan, or probation agreement, or
- purposefully harms a public worker or a transportation system employee while they are carrying out their duty.
In Texas, the aggravated assault includes:-
- the deliberate, reckless, or negligent infliction of significant bodily harm upon another person, or
- any assault felony involving the use or display of a lethal weapon, including making threats of physical harm or acting in a way that the victim is likely to find offensive.
Examples of aggravated assault
- Using a metal bar, bat, or knife to strike or threaten to strike an individual.
- Assaulting a social worker, developmentally delayed person, police officer, healthcare professional, or elderly or disabled person.
- Firing a gun at someone or threatening to shoot someone while pointing a gun at the victim.
- Throwing a vase at an individual or shoving another person into a glass object leads to severe injuries.
- Attacking an individual with the intention of committing another criminal offense, like robbery or rape.
- Threatening an individual while hiding and concealing one’s identity.
- Breaking the bone of an individual by pushing him down the stairs.
Hill v. State
In this case, two witnesses yelled at the defendant to put the gun away. However, the defendant shot the victim and further testified stating that he was under the impression that the victim was carrying a gun behind the victim’s leg when the victim walked out of the vehicle. Moreover, the defendant stated that when the victim walked out of the vehicle he heard someone yell “bust,” which the defendant misunderstood as “shoot”. However, during cross-examination, it was found that another witness heard no such statement and saw nothing in the victim’s hands when the victim got out of the car.
Held, that the defendant was found guilty of felony murder and aggravated assault because his defense lacked merit, and evidence supported the victim. Hence, the defendant was liable for punishment under the crime of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Johnson v. United States
In this case, the defendant pushed a revolver through the door of an ex-lover’s apartment, aimed it at the ex-lover and demanded to know if the ex-lover would make a phone call to the defendant again. When the ex-lover declined and closed the door, the defendant then fired two rounds through the door. Two shell casings were discovered on the apartment floor, and another love interest’s home also discovered a matched shell casing and a photo of the defendant holding a weapon.
Held, there must be evidence to convict someone of aggravated assault with a firearm and in this case, the evidence helped to convict the defendant for the crime of aggravated assault.
Ingram v. State
In this case, the defendant was riding in a car when the accused made certain inappropriate gestures to some people on the street. In response to their inappropriate gestures, the defendant pulled out a gun and fired at them which led to the death of two individuals and caused injury to another. In his defense, the defendant contended that he was protecting himself and others in the car. Moreover, he fired into the air and absolutely had no intention to hurt or injure anyone. This defense was found to be without merit.
Held, the defendant was found guilty because the evidence was adequate to support convictions for felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm while committing a crime.
Borden v. United States
In this case, the authorities found the accused with a pistol during a traffic encounter and he subsequently pleaded guilty to possessing the firearm as a crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Based on prior Tennessee aggravated assault convictions, the government recommended punishing Borden as an armed career criminal under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) which mandates a 15-year minimum sentence for persons found guilty of illegally possessing a firearm who have three or more prior convictions for a “violent felony.”. Borden objected, claiming that one of his earlier convictions—reckless aggravated assault—did not qualify as a “violent crime” under the Armed Career Criminal Act’s (ACCA’s) “use of force” clause. Borden contended that reckless aggravated assault required simply a reckless mental state, and that reckless use of force does not constitute a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). Borden contended that under the Armed Career Criminal Act’s (ACCA’s) components clause, this act is not a violent felony because a mental state of carelessness suffices for conviction. The District Court disagreed and sentenced Borden as a career offender.
The judgment was overturned, with the conclusion that a crime involving recklessness does not qualify as a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act’s (ACCA’s) ingredients clause.
Ladner v. United States
In this case, the petitioner was convicted in a district court on two separate charges of assaulting two federal officials with a deadly weapon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 254 at the time. He was sentenced to ten years in jail for each assault conviction, with the sentences to run consecutively. Following the conclusion of the first 10-year term, he filed a motion in district court to correct the second, and subsequent, sentence. He claimed that the evidence at his trial revealed that he fired only one shot from a shotgun, injuring two federal policemen and that under these circumstances, he could be guilty of only one assault. The District Court refused his request, holding that wounding two cops with a single shotgun fire would constitute a separate offense against each officer under the Act.
It was held that the petitioner’s single shotgun discharge, in this case, would only amount to one violation of § 254; the judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings. The petitioner is entitled to the chance to prove that his conviction for two assaults was based on evidence that the two officers’ injuries were caused by the single shotgun discharge.
Illustrations of aggravated assault
- Late at night, a girl was strolling alone when suddenly a man lunged in front of her and took her into the bushes. After a few blows, the man starts tearing at her clothing. Fortunately, the girl throws a rock at the assailant and escapes to safety. Because the circumstances suggest that the perpetrator assaulted the girl with the intention of raping her, he is guilty of aggravated assault.
- An elderly patient being fondled by a nurse in a nursing institution. In US states that have passed specific legislation to safeguard elderly or mentally ill patients against violence by carers, the nurse may be found guilty of aggravated assault.
According to tort, assault is an act that causes someone to apprehend imminent bodily harm. It is an act that causes fear in the mind of another person without any kind of physical contact. Assault is commonly defined as a deliberate act that is intended to cause apprehension or fear in the mind of the victim. This states that the person committing the act need not have made any physical contact with the sufferer. Aggravated assaults are where a gun, knife, or other weapon is displayed or threatened to be used that would probably cause serious injury. When burglaries and aggravated assaults occur simultaneously, the crime is classified as robbery.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How does federal law classify felonies?
18 U.S. Code § 3559 envisages sentencing classification of offenses as follows:-
An offense that is not specifically classified by a letter grade rather is classified if the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is –
Class A felony: Life imprisonment or the death penalty;
Class B felony: 25 years or more imprisonment;
Class C felony: minimum of 10 years but less or equal to 25 years of imprisonment;
Class D felony: Minimum of 5 years but not more than 10 years of imprisonment;
Class E felony: Minimum of 1 year but not more than 5 years of imprisonment;
Class A misdemeanor: Minimum of 6 months but not more than 1 year of imprisonment;
Class B misdemeanor: Minimum of 30 days but not more than 6 months of imprisonment;
Class C misdemeanor: Minimum of 5 days but not more than 30 days of imprisonment;
Federal offenses are also committed. When a crime is committed, it may be punished either under federal or state law (such as bank robbery) or only under federal law (like immigration offenses). Federal legislation determines punishments for each offense separately.
The criminal statute will specify the punishment for some offenses. For instance, according to the statute against drug possession, a second conviction for drug possession entails a sentence of 15 days to two years in jail. Other legal provisions may have two statutes, one outlining all the offenses and the other outlining the punishments. One example is possessing weapons illegally. Section 922 of Title 18 of the United States Code deals with unlawful conduct, and Section 924 deals with sanctions for such acts.
What are mandatory or enhanced penalties in aggravated assault cases?
If a firearm was used as a fatal weapon, many states’ laws would impose additional penalties that are either mandatory or more severe (rather than a knife, bat, or another object). The penalties may be even worse for some types of firearms, such as automatic weapons, machine guns, or firearms that fire metal-resistant bullets. In some places, if there are many aggravating circumstances, the court may be required to impose a mandatory minimum term on a guilty criminal.
For instance, suppose the crime resulted in significant physical harm (a gunshot wound to a victim who was protected) (a police officer). A judge may be required by law to impose a minimum sentence of 20 years in jail without the possibility of probation or release.
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