Have you been accused of assaulting somebody?
You can be charged with the crime of assault in many circumstances and it is in your best interest to have an attorney with substantial experience telling your side of the story. Assault is a very common criminal offense and can arise in numerous different types of situations. It is also commonly associated with other crimes, such as “assault and battery”.
- By definition, an assault occurs if you have physically threatened to harm another person or have caused actual physical harm to another person. Assault can be an intentional, reckless or negligent act requiring that, at the time of the assault, you had the immediate ability to inflict the type of harm that was threatened or that actually occurred.
- It is important to realize that you do not have to actually harm the other person in order to be criminally responsible for assaulting them. An assault is essentially an attempted battery and a battery may be thought of as a completed assault.
- The consequences of assault charges can vary significantly, from a misdemeanor to a felony charge, depending on the severity of the injury caused, if any. For example, if you didn’t actually harm the other person the charges you face will likely be less severe than if you caused severe bodily injury to the other person or assaulted them with a deadly weapon.
In the initial phases of the criminal process there are two very important things to remember:
- Assault charges can be based on many factors and even a seemingly innocent act can cause a substantial amount of trouble for you
- The most important thing you can do when charged with assault is NOT talk with the police, your friends, or your family until you have spoken with a criminal lawyer
Basic types of assault
There are many types of assault ranging from simple assault to vehicular assault to assault on a peace officer. The punishments for some of the more general forms of assault range from Class A misdemeanors up to a Class B felony. Below you will find some selected sections of the New York Penal Code and a discussion of the elements to establish whether you committed that crime.
- You do not always need to intend to cause physical injury to the other person. There are variations with regard to the type of intent you may have had at the time. Each of these is explored in more detail below.
- Article 120.00 Assault in the third degree: the most common form of this crime is where you intend to cause physical injury and you actually cause physical injury to the other person. Other types include criminal negligence or where you cause physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument. These crimes are treated as Class A misdemeanors. Article 120.05 Assault in the second degree: a person is guilty of assault in the second degree when with intent to cause physical injury to another person, you cause such injury to such person or to a third person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument; or with intent to prevent a peace officer, a police officer, registered nurse and many other protected classes of public safety workers. This section of the Penal Code establishes a broad range of protected groups of people who, if assaulted, will subject you to greater levels of punishments. It also allows for harsher punishment if dangerous weapons or firearms are used. Assault in the second degree is a Class D felony.
- Article 120.10 Assault in the first degree. You may be found guilty of assault in the first degree if: with intent to disfigure another person seriously and permanently, or to destroy, amputate or disable permanently a member or organ of your body, you cause such injury to such person or to a third person; or under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, you recklessly engage in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious physical injury to another person; or in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempted commission of a felony or of immediate flight therefrom, you, or another participant in the felony, causes serious physical injury to a person other than one of the participants. This crime is a class B felony.
Can assault charges overlap with charges for other crimes?
Yes. In fact, assault charges routinely accompany other types of crimes. This is largely because of the types of circumstances in which an assault typically occurs. In New York we typically deal with assault charges in the context of:
- Domestic violence
- Child abuse
- Sexual assault, and
- Assault against law enforcement or correctional officers.
If, in addition to assault charges, you are facing other criminal charges the potential punishment will most likely be far more severe. Aggravating factors, such as the use of a deadly weapon, can also increase the potential for punishment.
- For example: you may find yourself facing allegations of assault with a deadly weapon even though the “weapon” didn’t seem like a deadly weapon per se. A deadly weapon could be any object that might cause substantial bodily injury to another person, such as: your fists, a baseball bat, an automobile, and of course the more obvious weapons such as firearms and knives.
What happens if I didn’t harm the other person and they are lying about the assault?
Unfortunately, this happens in many cases, especially in the context of domestic violence or other instances of family violence.
- You may have angered a former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend and to get even with you they called the police and accused you of assaulting them. Because the legal system and law enforcement take accusations of domestic violence very seriously, you can be arrested and hauled in for questioning even if there is no physical evidence to support the other person’s false allegations. Remember, you don’t have to have physically harmed them to have assaulted them.
- In other cases, a simple misunderstanding that you thought was non-threatening can easily escalate to a misdemeanor charge of menacing or worse. You may not have intended your statements or actions to be a threat, but if it was interpreted that way, you may face charges of assault. This is precisely why you need an experienced criminal attorney to make the case that even if your actions were interpreted as an immediate harmful threat, you did not have the intent to threaten the other person, and are therefore not guilty of committing an assault.
In any event, your reputation and your rights are on the line. You need a qualified criminal attorney advocating for you and telling your side of the story. Don’t allow yourself to be victimized by unfair or malicious allegations.
As my attorney, what will you do for me?
Prosecutors and police will vigorously prosecute allegations of assault and you need a vigorous advocate on your side. George Vomvolakis is a former prosecutor and he knows the tactics and strategies used by prosecutors. He has successfully defended many people who were wrongly or unfairly accused of crimes. If you are facing charges for assault, Mr. Vomvolakis will:
- examine the charges,
- conduct a factual investigation to determine exactly what the charges are based on and what really happened, and
- develop a strategy to mitigate or eliminate the charges altogether.
Protect your rights by contacting an experienced and passionate criminal defense attorney today. Consultations are free and you owe it to yourself to have a defense attorney with the experience of a prosecutor.