Assault is considered a criminal offense. There are serious consequences for this sort of charge. Assault is a crime that consists of intentionally causing another person to be in reasonable apprehension of imminent fear of injury. Researching the local jurisdiction’s criminal code is important to understand its legal charges better.
In assault, an injury does not need to take place per se. The core criminal liability stems from the perpetrator threatening to injure, which causes the victim to be reasonably afraid that such an injury will occur. The burden to prove assault is much lower for an assault charge. The reason is that the prosecutor needs only to demonstrate that the victim was reasonably afraid of injury and that the defendant could accomplish the injury.
As with any criminal charge, there are several degrees. Most jurisdictions separate various criminal offenses into degree categories and subcategories. The first-degree charge is considered the group’s highest or most serious offense. It generally attaches with it much longer prison sentences, larger fines, and graver punishments.
Other offenses, such as fourth-degree or fifth-degree, generally do not carry as significant punishments. Moreover, the cases do not have the same factors associated with a first-degree or second-degree offense.
Additionally, all assault charges are not the same. Meaning that in some assault cases, actual serious bodily harm does occur. This can be a significant factor in increasing the degree of crime. Furthermore, if a deadly weapon is involved, it can severely impact the case to be at a higher level.
Moreover, if the victim happens to be a peace officer or a minor, this will increase the degree of the crime to a more severe sentence. Lastly, if there is any prior criminal history involving assault or battery charges, then it may also make the crime more serious.
What Are the Potential Consequences of Conviction?
Convictions can have a detrimental impact on your life. There are several consequences of being convicted of assault; in some cases, it could even be a term of imprisonment. Besides being sentenced to prison, other consequences can impact your career, family, and social relationships. For instance, people convicted of crimes and felonies will have a permanent record of the offense that can be detected for criminal background checks.
Assault is known to be a serious violent crime, and therefore the hiring department will consider that if they believe an individual poses a safety risk to other people. Background checks are a routine practice for many companies and will depreciate your employment opportunities. Furthermore, obtaining housing can become an issue due to a criminal background. Besides obtaining housing and career opportunities, it will also become a barrier if you want to apply for certain professional licenses.
What Are the Defenses to Assault Charges?
State law determines the availability of defenses in an assault case. The courts will review the facts of the case and decide whether a defense is warranted. A criminal defense attorney in the defendant’s jurisdiction can inform you of any possible defenses applicable to your case.
One of the most common defenses is self-defense. This defense applies in an assault case when the defendant agrees that they committed the assault but that it was justified given the threatening actions of the victim. Usually, for this scenario, the defendant must demonstrate that the victim was the first aggressor or the actual aggressor.
You merely defend yourself to protect yourself from imminent harm. The defendant believed that they acted reasonably and the defendant’s actions did not go beyond the force necessary in the situation.
Another defense frequently used is the defense of others. In this case, the defendant assaulted the victim after a third person threatened the victim. This has to be proved in a court of law, and the jury must decide whether the defendant acted reasonably during the alleged assault.
Next is the alibi defense, which entails that the defendant was not present at the crime scene because they were elsewhere. This defense typically applies when the victim misidentifies the perpetrator.
Lastly, the prosecutor in criminal cases is burdened to prove that the defendant committed each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor fails to meet this burden, the jury will determine the defendant is not guilty. More information on assault defenses will be located on your local government website.
What Is Battery Law?
Battery is considered a criminal offense, and it occurs when one person touches another person in a harmful or offensive manner. Battery offenses can entail convicting the offenders and suing them in private lawsuits to collect monetary damages.
Therefore, the act of battery is both a crime and a tort. The battery is typically charged as a misdemeanor unless it is a more serious crime involving children or vulnerable adults.
What Are the Differences Between Battery and Assault?
Battery and assault differ in terms of which situation would apply to them. For proper criminal prosecution, having their distinction in mind is crucial. Assault occurs when the victim is apprehensive of harmful contact, while battery refers to harmful contact. Judges need to determine each case and examine the facts. In some cases, victims’ awareness of the threat of contact is an important factor. The two offenses can, but need not always, happen together.
For instance, if the defendant holds out a weapon to scare the victim, the defendant has committed assault. But if the defendant follows through and shoots the victim in the leg, he is guilty of both assault and battery, along with other charges for carrying a firearm. However, if the victim did not see the gun, there was neither assault nor battery.
There are four elements to a battery charge:
- A harmful or an offensive touch;
- To the victim’s person;
- They have the intent to harm and;
- There is a causation link between the harm and the damage.
The first element, harmful or offensive touching, is based on a reasonable person’s standard. Meaning there needs to be an actual harmful touch. Being brushed up against on a crowded commuter train will not qualify as battery. But, if the victim is sensitive to touch and the defendant deliberately did it, they will be liable for battery.
What Are the Defenses for Battery?
As with any offense, there are defenses available for the defendant. After submitting the case, the defendant can present defenses to justify or excuse the battery. Consent is considered one of the more common defenses in these cases. A victim can provide consent directly or indirectly through contact. For instance, they can sign a waiver before engaging in a dangerous sport.
Additional defenses include privilege, necessity, self-defense, and the defense of other people or property. These were briefly discussed earlier.
When Do I Need to Contact A Lawyer?
For more information on assault or battery defenses, you can contact a local criminal defense lawyer to help you understand them and how to apply them in your situation. Assault and battery are similar offenses that carry similar defenses. However, there are some distinctions, and it is important to keep them in mind.