Assault, according to criminal law, is defined as an intentional act which causes the fear of imminent harmful or offensive touching. Assault is commonly associated with battery, which is defined as an intentional physical act that results in a harmful or offensive touching of a person without that person’s consent.
Aggravated assault is crime that is considered a more serious form of assault and battery, which may result in a criminal felony charge. It typically consists of physical actions that cause serious bodily harm, such as an assault made with a deadly weapon (such as a pistol, knife, brass knuckles, etc.), or an assault involving another aggravating factor.
Many states criminal laws classify assaults as either simple or aggravated, depending on the severity of harm that occured, or the harm that was likely to occur if the assaulter would have struck the victim. And, some states may further classify aggravated assault as first degree, second degree, or third degree assault, based on the seriousness of the harm inflicted.
What Are Examples Of Aggravating Factors?
The term aggravating factor refers to any circumstance related to the crime in question which somehow makes the crime itself worse. Aggravating factors are important because they could significantly increase a crime’s penalty. What could constitute an aggravating factor is determined by statute; as such, examples of aggravating factors vary widely according to each jurisdiction. Some examples of commonly accepted factors include but may not be limited to:
- Prior criminal record;
- Tool(s) used to commit the crime;
- Cruelty, or, how the crime was committed; and/or
Other aggravating factors may include the status of the victim, the intent of the assailant, or the degree of injury that was inflicted. Specific state laws may name the aggravating factor, such as assault with a deadly weapon, or assault with intent to carry out another crime.
Aggravated assault is also referred to as felony assault. Felony assault could be described using the same underlying concept as a misdemeanor assault; in this case, some extra factor is added that causes the crime to be viewed as one that is more severe. As such, the crime carries weightier consequences. An assault would likely be charged as a felony when the defendant not only commits simple assault, but also involves some extra aggravating factor.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Accused of Aggravated Assault?
If you have been accused of aggravated assault, you should immediately consult with a criminal defense attorney. Aggravated assault is a serious crime, and carries serious criminal charges and consequences. Generally speaking, the penalties for aggravated assault are the same as they are for a conviction of an average assault and battery. However, the punishments are heightened to a much more significant degree.
These consequences could include but may not be limited to:
- Long term imprisonment;
- The crime being included in the defendant’s criminal record;
- Heightened fines;
- Loss of the right to possess deadly weapons; and/or
- Other civil liabilities, such as compensating the victim for any injuries or losses that resulted from the aggravated assault.
There are some steps you may take to help beat aggravated assault charges. These steps begin with hiring an attorney to defend you and your rights in court. Additionally, maintaining as much evidence as possible in order to support your case will better your chances of beating an aggravated assault charge.
What Are Common Defenses to Aggravated Assault?
State laws define what actions constitute aggravated assault. As such, they also define what defenses may be argued in response to the charges. Factual innocence is, by far, the best defense for aggravated assault. However, there are other defenses that may be offered in your state. Some examples of these defenses include, but may not be limited to:
- Self defense;
- The defense of others;
- The defense of property;
- Lack of intent, as the crime itself is dependent on the intent to cause fear or actual harm;
- Provocation, or reacting to a perceived threat;
- No proof of a deadly weapon;
- The violation of constitutional rights at the time of the arrest;
- Consent, as in, the victim actually consented to the assault; and/or
- Assumption of risk, such as voluntarily and knowingly assuming a risk of harm.
Barring factual innocence, the next best defense for aggravated assault is lack of intent. The defendant’s attorney may be able to prove that the defendant did not actually intend to hurt the victim, or cause them to fear harm. Although this may be the best defense for aggravated assault, it may also be the most difficult to prove in court. The proper use of a defense may lessen or dismiss the charges against the defendant altogether, but they must be asserted properly.
Should I Hire an Attorney if I’m Facing Aggravated Assault Charges?
If you are facing an aggravated assault charge, you should consult with a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney early on. An experienced criminal defense attorney can inform you of your rights, determine any valid defenses, as well as represent you in court as needed.
On the other hand, if you are a victim of an aggravated assault, you should immediately contact your local authorities. Further, you should contact a criminal lawyer in your area to see what other options that you have.