Although there are many levels of charges where the crime of assault is concerned, they are all very serious. Simple assault is less severe than aggravated assault nonetheless charges of simple assault can still cause you considerable problems in your life, both present and future. Simple assault is generally a misdemeanor, meaning it is a less serious crime and will bring no more than one year in jail. Charges of simple assault mean you have caused another person to be apprehensive and fearful that you will cause them harm. No touching actually has to occur for charges of simple assault to be filed although generally speaking assault entails touching without consent or the act of one person applying indirect or direct force to another human being without their consent.
There have been many cases of two people in a verbal argument which escalated to the point where one of them made a threat which the other considered to be serious enough that there might actually be a follow-through. For instance, if you tell another person you are going to punch them in the face and that person reasonably believes you will do so, then simple assault has occurred. In other cases two people could be engaged in a verbal argument and one of them pokes the other on the shoulder in order to make his or her point. This can be considered simple assault if it could reasonably have caused the other person to be fearful. Pointing a weapon of any type can be considered simple assault even if the person pointing the weapon did not actually intend to use the weapon.
Aggravated assault is a much more serious crime, with much more serious penalties and punishments. Aggravated assault can be charged when assault with a deadly weapon takes place. Wearing a disguise in the commission of assault can bump up the charges to aggravated assault (when the alleged perpetrator has taken care to disguise his or her face). Further, certain groups of people are more protected than the general public in that if simple assault is directed toward them it can automatically be enhanced to aggravated assault. These groups include police officers, firefighters, park rangers, state or federal employees and teachers. Aside from this group, aggravated assault generally wounds, disfigures or endangers the life of the alleged victim.
Unfortunately, because charges of assault can be somewhat subjective, there are instances where a person is unfairly charged with the crime of assault. A conviction for assault—simple or aggravated—can have very far-reaching effects. The convicted person will end up with a permanent criminal record which can prohibit them from finding employment or housing, returning to college with a government loan or obtaining a professional license. In addition, there is the stigma surrounding a criminal conviction.
If you’ve been charged with assault it is imperative that you immediately seek legal representation. Perhaps the most common defense to charges of assault are consent and self-defense, and your attorney will explore all the options for your specific case to determine the best course of action for you and your future.