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What is Aggravated Assault? Laws, Charges & Statute of Limitations

June 26, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys
What is Aggravated Assault? Laws, Charges & Statute of Limitations
There are many types of possible criminal charges. Some charges are far more serious than others. One of the most serious of all legal charges are what are known as aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is a form of assault. A person can be charged with aggravated assault under the law rather than simple assault under certain circumstances. Anyone who is being charged with this kind of crime should understand why they are being charged and what it might mean in terms of sentencing in the long run. They should also be aware that what constitutes aggravated assault in one state may only rise to simple assault in another.

The Kinds of Factors

Several factors may increase the possibility of being charged with aggravated assault. If the crime involved the use of a weapon such as a gun, this can fall under this statue. The same is true if the person intended to harm their victim greatly rather than merely deliver a glancing blow. If a minor was involved who cannot consent, this can also increase the possibility of this kind of charge by the prosecutor.

An assault is generally considered a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors have lower penalties such as a short jail sentence or even probation. However, an aggravated assault is typically considered a felony. Felonies are far serious crimes. A felony conviction can result in significant prison time as well as fines and even the loss of a professional license on a temporary or even permanent basis. Nearly all states have quite varied forms of aggravated assault. Most such charges are conducted in state courts. However, sometimes the kind of crime may involve more than one state. In that case, interstate laws apply and the person may be charged at the federal level.

There are issues that will determine if the prosecutor chooses this form of charge instead of another type of classification. If the assault involved in the use of any kind of weapon this can bring up to this form of assault. If a fight involves a knife, machete, bat or even a small rock, this can turn it into aggravated assault. Even if the person was not harmed in a way, the mere threat of using what can be seen as a deadly weapon can make this charge stick. What counts is the way they behaved during any encounter. If they made someone fear for their safety, the person involved can testify as to their behavior and provide evidence for the prosecutor.

The way the weapon was used can also be considered evidence for aggravated assault. Merely having a pocketknife in a pocket is not relevant. However, if the person pulled this knife out and used it against the person’s throat, this is considered a form of aggravated assault.

Other Issues

Other issues will play out when a prosecutor decides to file this kind of charge. If the attack was on an official in the course of duty such as a firefighter or police officer, this can mean this type of charge. A person may be charged with aggravated assault if they are a member of certain minorities. Hate crimes are considered attacks on people on the basis of factors such as sexual orientation and race.

A judge may also consider the mental state of the perpetrator. Someone may have acted in a manner that was reckless with a clear intent to harm another. The degree of injury can also have an impact. A person who suffers only a minor scratch as a result of the defendant’s actions is a different issue than someone who spends a great many weeks in the hospital recovering from their injuries.

Penalties and Statue of Limitations

An assault conviction is a serious matter. A conviction may result in up to twenty years in prison. The victim may sue the perpetrator for damages in civil court leading to further loss of income and capital. The judge may consider factors such as remorse, the victim’s injuries and the defendant’s prior criminal history when determining the kind of prison sentence given to the defendant. In most states, the statue of limitations is anywhere from five to seven years.

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