How to Defend Against Aggravated Assault Charges

How to Defend Against Aggravated Assault Charges


Using weapons that cause serious injury, such as mace, pepper spray and clubs. Inflicting other forms of serious injury, such as disfigurement or permanent loss of an organ.

Some states bump up simple assault charges to aggravated assault when the victim is in a protected class, like police officers or prison and jail workers. An experienced New York aggravated assault attorney can help you defend yourself against these charges.

What is Aggravated Assault?

Aggravated assault is an intentional or purposeful attack that involves the use of a deadly weapon. A weapon is defined as any object that creates or threatens to cause serious injury, including mace, pepper spray and clubs, bricks, jack handles, tire irons, knives, scissors and other sharp objects. Additionally, acid, lye and poisoning can constitute an aggravated assault if they are used to kill or injure someone.

Sometimes a simple assault can become an aggravated assault depending on the circumstances. For example, assaulting a police officer, fireman or EMT worker elevates the crime to a felony in many states.

An experienced New York aggravated assault lawyer can review the details of your case and help you build a strong defense. Common defenses include claiming that you acted in self-defense or that the prosecution has not proved every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, a skilled attorney can raise doubts about the evidence that has been presented.

Who is a Victim of Aggravated Assault?

Almost any physical act that leads to serious injury counts as an aggravated assault, depending on the circumstances. The actions that elevate an assault to this level vary from state to state, but they typically include pointing a weapon at someone, whether real or not (e.g., a gun or BB gun). It also includes pushing, slapping, or punching a police officer while the officer is in the line of duty.

Serious injuries also raise an assault to the aggravated level, but how severe the injury must be varies by state law. Some states require that the injury creates a risk of death, while others may only elevate an assault if it causes permanent injury or disfigurement.

The mindset of the perpetrator can also play a role, particularly when it comes to felony charges. An experienced aggravated assault lawyer can help clients build a defense that shows that their actions were not criminal. For example, if a person was defending property or another person and inadvertently injured someone, the attorneys can help clients argue that their actions were justified.

What is the Punishment for Aggravated Assault?

An aggravated assault conviction can result in substantial prison time, heavy fines and a permanent criminal record. It can also interfere with your ability to get a job or find housing because a felony crime shows up on background checks.

Basically, if the victim is left with severe injuries—permanent disfigurement, loss or impairment of a body organ or member or broken bones—or if you use a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument in the commission of the crime, then you can be charged with aggravated assault. Generally, aggravated assault is a level seven felony offense.

When you’re arrested on an aggravated assault charge, it’s important to remember your rights—to remain silent and to speak to a lawyer only. Too often defendants say things to police that can be used against them later in court or are misinterpreted by the prosecution. The best thing to do is to invoke your right to an attorney immediately and never speak to the officer without one present.

How Can I Build a Defense for Aggravated Assault?

One way to defend against aggravated assault charges is to show that the actions you took were reasonable and proportionate to the threat you faced. For example, if you were attacked by a group of people and one threw a punch at you, but you avoided it and then struck them back with your pocket knife, which caused serious injury, this would be a good case for self-defense.

Another defense is to challenge the elements of intent. It is important to make a clear distinction between intent and recklessness. You can use an expert witness to help you present this evidence. It is also important to remember that if you commit assault against a law enforcement officer, those working in a correctional or detention facility, or those employed by a school, this is considered aggravated assault, which can result in a heftier sentence. In such cases, you should seek immediate legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney.