Have You Been Charged With Assault,
Bodily Harm, or Aggravated Assault?
If you’ve been charged with an assault, from the most minor common assault to the most serious aggravated assault, you’re facing an allegation of violence. A conviction for any assault can have serious, long-lasting consequences.
What is meant by assault?
Assault, generally means “touching without consent”, and occurs when someone “applies force directly or indirectly” to another person, without that other persons consent. It can also occur where one person threatens to apply force to another person (e.g. “I’m going to punch you in the nose”), and the person being threatened reasonably believes that the person making the threat is going to carry out the threat.
This is the most minor of the assault charges. It occurs where there is an unwanted touching, but no bodily injury is caused. But don’t be fooled by the use of the word “minor”. A common assault is still a crime of violence, and a conviction can be disastrous.
Assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault
Assault causing bodily harm is just what it says it is; the unwanted touching has resulted in bodily harm to the other person. Aggravated assault occurs where the assault “wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant”.
In other words, whether you are charged with a common assault, assault causing bodily harm or aggravated assault, it all depends on the seriousness and magnitude of the injury caused in the assault.
What are the penalties for an assault conviction?
As with most criminal offences, a conviction carries a permanent criminal record. However you’re record will indicate that you have been convicted of a violent crime. You’re also facing fines, probation, and the restrictions you’ll face by having a criminal record for violence (such as travel restrictions and being limited in certain employment opportunities).
Possible Penalties for Aggravated Assault
- Jail time
- Probation and electronic monitoring
- Loss of the right to own or possess a firearm or weapon
- Mandatory anger management classes
- Restitution to the victim
- Fines and court costs
The maximum penalty for misdemeanor assault is 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. For assault causing bodily harm, the maximum penalty is ten years. And for aggravated assault, the maximum penalty is twenty years in prison.
How can you defend against an assault charge?
The most common defenses to a charge of assault are consent (e.g. in a case where you are involved in a consensual fight), and self-defense. You may also have a defense if you are using force to defend someone under your protection from assault, so long as you use no more force than is necessary to prevent the assault or repetition of it.
The bottom line
If you’ve been charged with any assault, talk to a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Explore your options with your attorney. Find out if you have a defense to the charge, or if you can enter into a diversion program to avoid a criminal record.
Don’t assume you’ll be found guilty, or that you don’t have a chance.