The crime of assault is mostly considered a misdemeanor crime. However, its definition and penalties vary depending on the laws of each state.
The act can be physical, sexual, or even verbal in nature and is committed by someone who knowingly causes or wants to cause harm or injury against another person. This can refer to actually touching someone with the intent to insult or harm them. It can also be as simple as making someone feel that there is a threat of injury. This means that a person can be accused of assault even if there are no injuries inflicted.
The crime can be considered aggravated assault, which is a felony, if the person commits it using a weapon or a dangerous object such as a car. Aggravated assault can also be applied to situations in which the victim suffers serious physical injuries, serious disfigurement, permanent impairment of a body part, as well as a fracture.
The identity of the victim can also figure into whether an assault will be considered aggravated or simple. If the victim is a police officer, a paramedic, a firefighter, or a child below 15 years old, the perpetrator may face a case of aggravated assault.
If the two people involved are in a domestic relationship, then the assault case can fall under domestic violence. Depending on the state, domestic violence can have severe consequences. A domestic relationship can refer to the following relationships according to Arizona state law: spouses or ex-spouses, dating couples, couples with a child, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, siblings, and even roommates.
If convicted, you face:
Besides being a crime, assault can also be considered a tort, which means the victim can sue for civil damages. In most states, the misdemeanor can result in incarceration, fines, and probation. Meanwhile, those involved in domestic violence may undergo court-mandated counseling, which can last for several months. The perpetrator may be prohibited from communicating with the victim and can risk losing custody rights to their child. Those convicted of assault can also lose their right to purchase and keep a firearm.
Experienced defense attorneys, like those in the Law offices of Gary L. Rohlwing, regularly assist people who are accused of assault. Hiring a lawyer is necessary to protect the rights and freedom of the accused.
A lawyer can examine the specific elements of the crime and has the best chance to prove the state’s failure to show evidence for elements of their case. This can result in acquittal. For example, the prosecutor will have to show that the defendant intended the victim to feel threatened. It will be the lawyer’s job to disprove this.
The defendant’s lawyer can also establish an affirmative defense, which may include the victim’s consent to what transpired and/or intoxication of the defendant. Self-defense can also be a strong reason for acquittal of the case. For this, the defendant will have to prove that the assault was necessary to protect himself against equal or greater harm intended by the victim.
In tort cases, civil plaintiffs usually just need to prove that there is a “preponderance of evidence”. This is easier compared to criminal courts, which require the victim to prove that the crime happened “beyond reasonable doubt”. In such cases, the defendant is not required to make the threat in person. Setting a trap can be considered assault while phone calls or text messages are not. The apparent threat is also not required to be real, so a victim threatened with a fake or unloaded weapon can still win civil damages.
This is why it is important for defendants to find a good lawyer that will properly represent him or her in criminal cases. They should choose lawyers who are experienced in trial and assault cases.