Aggravated assault refers to the attempt to cause serious body injury to another person, or to cause serious body injury on purpose, recklessly or knowingly, without regard to human life. Aggravated assault also arises when a person attempts to or purposely causes body injury to another using a deadly weapon. Here is a look at the basic elements of aggravated assault.
What Happens When A Person is Accused of Aggravated Assault?
The main elements that a prosecutor needs to prove in order for a person to be convicted for aggravated assault are as follows:
•The intent to instill fear in the victim
•The intentional act was a result of an attempt to use force with a dangerous, or deadly weapon
•If force were to be used against the victim, it would result in serious body injury
Degrees of Aggravated Assault
The first degree of aggravated assault occurs when a particular act is executed with malice aforethought. This means that the defendant intentionally attempted to commit serious bodily injury.
Second degree aggravated assault is when an act is committed without premeditation or deliberation. Reckless indifference can turn a third degree or fourth degree aggravated assault into a second degree charge.
Third degree and fourth degree assault charges apply when an assailant seeks to commit significant body harm rather than severe body harm. These offenses are common in fist fights and similar situations.
What Are The Penalties For Aggravated Assault?
Aggravated assault is a felony that is punishable by a prison sentence of between 1 and 20 years. Punishment may also include a fine of up to $10,000, an order to pay restitution, and an order to attend anger management classes.
Apart from affecting your personal record, multiple felony convictions can lead to life imprisonment. For example, in California, an aggravated assault conviction may be considered a strike. This means if you have two felony convictions, or are found guilty for other felonies in a single trial, a third strike for felony aggravated assault can put a defendant in prison for life.
What Are The Defenses For Aggravated Assault?
One of the most common defenses for aggravated assault is self defense. In order to succeed in a self defense claim, the defendant must be able to show:
•A threat of unlawful harm or force against them
•An honest and reasonable fear of being harmed
•No provocation or harm on their part
•No reasonable opportunity of escaping or retreating from the situation
Defense of Others
The defense of others is similar to self-defense. The main difference is that a person must have a real and honest fear of harm towards another person. Like self defense, the defendant must have reasonable grounds for their fear.
Defense of Property
A defendant in an aggravated assault charge can also claim that they acted in defense of their property. In many jurisdictions, this defense allows a person to apply reasonable force when defending their property. However, if there is some conflict over personal property, the owner should not use force when retrieving it. On the other hand, when property is stolen directly from a person, they may be entitled to use force when recovering such property.
If an individual consented voluntarily to a certain act, this act cannot be categorized as aggravated assault. However, if the extent of a particular act exceeds the permission granted, they may still be sufficient grounds for aggravated assault. In many cases harmful actions, even when consented to, are a violation of public policy and are punishable under assault laws.
How a Lawyer Can Help You In A Case Of Aggravated Assault
If you have been charged with aggravated assault, it is advisable to seek legal counsel. Without a lawyer, you are likely to commit mistakes such as self-incrimination. A lawyer will give you an honest account of your legal options.
With the help of a lawyer, you will be able to gather sufficient evidence to prove your case. Additionally, your lawyer will be able to raise the appropriate defenses to either reduce your sentence or withdraw your charges. Last but not least, the presence of legal counsel will ensure you get justice and that no legal aspect of your case is overlooked.
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