Assault charges are criminal charges which contain the act of violence. Should there have been a weapon used in the commission of the assault, the severity of the charges will escalate accordingly. By the same token, if injury occurred as a result of the assault, the penalties and punishments will be much harsher. Contingent upon the specific circumstances, the act of criminal assault could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony with wide-ranging consequences. Simple assault is a much less seriously punished crime and usually involves a situation where law enforcement personnel actually saw the assault occur—except in the instance of domestic violence.
Assault Charges With No Physical Contact
Further, charges of simple assault are entirely possible even if the accused never actually threw a punch. Suppose two neighbors are engaged in a verbal disagreement over the tree branches from one neighbor’s tree which fell into the other neighbor’s perfectly manicured lawn during a severe storm. Voices are raised and tempers are flaring. One neighbor taps his finger on the other’s chest in the interest of making his point and finds himself under arrest for simple assault. Even more surprising to most people is that a mere vow of injury could also result in assault charges being filed. If the person you threaten to kick, hit, or otherwise harm has good reason to believe you might actually carry through with that threat, you could be charged with assault.
The Subjective Nature of Assault Charges
As you can see it is a pretty subjective area. Suppose a wife was getting a little too cozy with her co-worker. The husband observes the behavior and later, when the couple is deep into an argument the husband’s temper explodes and he yells “I could just strangle you.” Bad choice of words—sure. The question is whether it was a valid threat and whether the wife truly believes that her husband would put his hands around her throat and strangle her given the chance. Most adults can remember a time when they have uttered words in anger they later wished they could take back. Did they really mean they would kill the other person? Doubtful. Did the other person actually believe the one yelling the threat absolutely intended to kill them? Depends on the circumstances, but in many cases it is unlikely.
Penalties for Assault
Therefore, you could certainly be charged with assault were you to hit, kick or choke another person, you might also find yourself under arrest for simply saying you would like to do those things. If only a minor bump or bruise were to occur, a Class A misdemeanor could lead to a fine of as much as $4,000 while a other assault crimes could be elevated to a third-degree felony leading to two to ten years in prison. Should a simple assault be perpetrated against a family member, spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend it may automatically turn into a third degree charge. If you were to poke or elbow another person it would normally result in misdemeanor charges. However, if that person was older or officiated sports, the charges might be changed to a Class B crime. When a weapon is used in the commission of assault, it becomes aggravated assault and can lead to as much as two decades in prison and fines as high as $10,000.
Defense to the Crime of Assault?
If you have been charged with criminal assault or even if you think charges are likely, you need to contact a highly qualified criminal defense attorney at the first opportunity. Whether your attorney chooses—after discussing all your options—to completely dispute that the assault ever took place or whether they plan on questioning the validity of the alleged evidence it is crucial they be brought on board very quickly if you want them to be able to prevent your life from being altered in a negative manner for the remainder of your life. The crime of assault is very serious and you must treat it as such.