Criminal assault can generally be defined as an intentional act that causes a victim to appreciate or become aware of a threat of imminent bodily harm. In some states, assault may also be defined as an attempted battery. The exact definition and consequences for the crime of assault tends to vary widely by jurisdiction.
For instance, the state of Georgia recognizes two forms of criminal assault: simple assault and aggravated assault. The main difference between them being that aggravated assault involves some extra factor or condition that increases the severity of the crime.
To learn more about the penalties associated with various assault crimes in Georgia, you should speak to a criminal defense attorney who practices law in your specific county. A local lawyer will be able to provide legal advice that is relevant to the charges and issues in your specific Georgia assault criminal case.
What Is Simple Assault in Georgia?
As discussed above, the state of Georgia divides assault crimes into two separate categories: simple assault and aggravated assault. Assault crimes that fall into the simple assault category are then further broken down into two different subcategories.
According to the Georgia State Criminal Code, the two subcategories for simple assault crimes in Georgia can be described as follows:
- The first subcategory defines simple assault as an attempt to commit a violent injury against another individual; and
- The second subcategory defines simple assault as an act that occurs when a victim is placed in a position to feel reasonable apprehension that they are in imminent danger of being severely harmed.
Again, these are the definitions provided for the two subcategories listed under simple assault crimes in the state of Georgia. In addition, it should be noted that some states may not recognize the above subcategories of simple assault crimes under their respective state criminal codes.
For example, a state may utilize different terminology to describe a simple assault crime or it may require separate elements of proof in order to prove that a defendant committed the crime.
Why Am I Being Charged with Assault When I Did Not Injure Anyone?
It is not necessary that a defendant injure their victim in order to be charged and convicted of committing assault. All that simple assault requires is that a victim is placed in a position of reasonable apprehension or awareness that they are about to be severely harmed. This can also include situations wherein the victim is reasonably apprehensive or aware that a specific defendant is about to inflict serious bodily injury upon them.
For instance, if a defendant picked up a brick in a manner that implied they intended to throw it at the victim’s head, the defendant does not actually have to follow through with throwing the brick at the victim to be charged and convicted of committing simple assault.
Is Simple Assault a Misdemeanor in Georgia?
In Georgia, the crime of simple assault is usually charged as a misdemeanor offense. In most cases, this means that a convicted defendant can be sentenced to up to one full year in a county jail and/or be fined for no more than $1,000.
However, there are some situations in which Georgia law may raise the level of a simple assault to that of an elevated misdemeanor offense. This can happen when there are certain conditions that exist during the commission of a simple assault.
For instance, a simple assault will become a misdemeanor that is of a high and aggravated nature in Georgia if the simple assault is carried out against any of the following persons:
- A former or current spouse;
- A woman who is pregnant;
- An elderly person who is of 65 years of age or older;
- An employee of a public school while they are on the clock and acting in an official capacity on school grounds (note that this includes employees of a school who are assaulted on a public school bus or at a public school bus stop);
- An individual who is considered a biological parent, a stepparent, or a foster parent to a child of the accused; and/or
- Any other person while they are standing in a public transit station or while they are traveling on a public transit vehicle (e.g., a bus, a train, a subway, a van, a rail car, etc.).
Are Simple Assault and Simple Battery Interchangeable Charges in Georgia?
In some states, such as the state of Georgia, simple assault and simple battery will be treated as two separate offenses. In general, the Georgia State Criminal Code defines the crime of simple battery is as either:
- The intentional act of physically touching or applying force to another person in a way that causes harm to that individual and is carried out without their consent; or
- The intentional act of making physical contact with another person in a manner that is considered to be insulting or provoking to that individual.
The difference between the crimes of simple assault and simple battery is that simple battery requires physical contact. Thus, without the physical contact, the act will likely be charged as a simple assault. Regardless of whether a defendant is charged with simple assault or simple battery, both crimes are considered to be misdemeanor offenses.
What Is the Penalty for Simple Assault in Georgia?
A defendant who is charged and convicted of committing simple assault in Georgia may receive the following penalties:
- A monetary fine of up to $1,000 maximum;
- A sentence of no longer than one full year to be served in a county jail; or
- Both a fine and jail time.
In cases where a simple assault crime involves conditions or factors that escalate it to the level of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, the penalties that a defendant can receive if charged and convicted may include:
- A jail sentence of at least one full year or longer;
- A monetary criminal fine of up to $100,000; or
- Both a jail sentence and a criminal fine.
Do I Need an Attorney to Represent Me in My Assault Case?
If you have been charged with committing the crime of assault in the state of Georgia, then it is strongly recommended that you hire a local Georgia criminal defense attorney immediately to assist you with your case. Hiring a Georgia attorney is especially encouraged if your assault charges involve a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature or a felony offense.
A Georgia attorney who has experience in handling assault-related matters will be able to determine whether there are any legal defenses you can raise against the charges. Your attorney will also be able to explain what the crimes you are accused of committing mean under Georgia state law.
In addition, your attorney can apprise you of the consequences you may be facing if you are convicted and can answer any questions you may have throughout the different stages of your assault case.
Finally, your attorney will be able to provide legal representation at your criminal hearing and during any other matters that are connected to your assault case. Also, if you need to file an appeal or to petition the court for a reduced sentence, your attorney will be to provide the necessary legal services to complete these procedures as well.