Felony Assault Lawyers
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What Is Felony Assault?
Felony assault, or aggravated assault, is a more serious form of simple assault. A simple assault is basically an attempt to commit a battery on another person. Some jurisdictions also define assault as any act that is done with the intent to create a reasonable apprehension of fear of injury or offensive contact in the victim.
In contrast, a felony assault occurs when a person:
- Attempts to use a deadly weapon to threaten another person (for example, aiming a loaded gun at a person while intending to frighten them)
- Attempts to cause another person serious bodily harm
- Attempts to engage in sexual activity with persons under the age of 14
Felony assault charges may also result if the defendant attempts to assault a police officer. Bodily harm resulting from the careless or reckless operation of a motor vehicle may also result in felony assault. This is also known as “aggravated assault with a motor vehicle” or “vehicular assault”.
Assault requires the intent to cause harm on the part of the aggressor. If the defendant did not intend to cause harm or offensive contact, then they cannot be found guilty of assault or felony assault. Therefore accidental acts do not constitute felony assault.
What Are Some of the Legal Consequences of Felony Assault?
Simple assault is usually considered to be a misdemeanor in most jurisdictions. Felony or aggravated assault on the other hand is a more serious crime and is punishable by stiffer penalties. Aggravated assault is classified as a felony in all jurisdictions.
Some of the legal consequences of felony assault may include a combination of:
- Sentencing in a prison facility for periods greater than one year
- Felony charges on one’s record (these may be permanent as felony charges are somewhat difficult to expunge)
- Potential exposure to a civil lawsuit in order to compensate for the victim’s injuries or losses
In addition to the above consequences, penalties for felony assault may increase with repeat offenses. Felony assault charges that involve acts of a sexual nature (“sexual assault”) may result in the defendant being placed on a sexual offender list. Rehabilitation programs such as anger management courses may be imposed by a judge according to their discretion.
What Are “Aggravating Factors?"
Aggravating factors are those factors which provide the basis for elevating a simple assault charge to felony assault. In addition to the elements listed above, some additional aggravating factors include:
- Classification of victims - assaulting “protected persons”, such as the elderly or disabled, children, women who are pregnant, or government agents.
- Location of the crime - assaults which occur in a school zone, public transit station or vehicle, and other protected places may result in felony assault charges.
- Prior criminal history - repeat or habitual assault offenses can sometimes result in felony assault charges. This is very common in repeat vehicular assault offenses that involve drunk driving.
Thus, in a felony assault case, the court will examine all the relevant factors surrounding the case to determine if any aggravating factors were involved. This involves a careful examination of the facts, and so it is generally advised to work with a lawyer even in the case of a simple assault.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Felony Assault charges?
Felony assault is a serious crime that can result in heavy penalties for the defendant. It can also result in the loss of many privileges such as voting or driving privileges. If you are facing felony assault charges, you have the right to an attorney, and it is advisable that you contact a criminal lawyer to represent you. There are several defenses to felony assault such as self-defense, necessity, etc. Your lawyer would be able to identify if you have any defenses to felony assault.
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Last Modified: 12-22-2014 12:13 PM PST
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