An assault occurs when someone physically harms or wants to harm another person or makes the other person believe or fear that they are going to be hurt. An injury does not necessarily have to occur. The fear of possible injury is enough to be considered an assault.
Assault with a deadly weapon is similar to assault, in that the actual bodily harm does not need to happen in order to rise to the level of the crime. Assault with a deadly weapon has the added element of the use of (or the intention to use) a deadly weapon.
Some courts refer to assault with a deadly weapon as an aggravated assault. To aggravate a crime basically means to make it more serious. Assault with a deadly weapon is considered to be a felony crime in most states.
Deadly weapons are items that have the ability to kill or seriously hurt someone. Obvious examples that most people consider to fall into the category of deadly weapons include guns and knives. There are other objects, however, and even parts of the human body, that courts have considered and determined to be a deadly weapon when used with the intent to hurt another person.
Some additional objects that courts decided were deadly weapons include:
- Baseball bats;
- Parts of a person’s body, including: hands/fist, feet, knees, teeth;
- Glass bottles and broken glass;
- Purses; and
Typically, a court will determine whether or not an object is “deadly” by examining how it was used during the assault. This is done on a case-by-case basis. If an object is used with the intent to harm someone, the court will be more inclined to deem it a deadly weapon.
It is important to remember that the weapon does not have to actually cause physical harm to another. The crime can occur and be prosecuted if the victim feels threatened and afraid that they might be hurt or possibly killed.
For example, if someone points a gun at another person and threatens to pull the trigger but does not shoot them, the person with the gun has potentially committed the crime of assault with a deadly weapon. This is because the victim most likely felt seriously threatened and feared for their life
Other examples of assault with a deadly weapon, include:
- Someone swinging a baseball bat threatens to hit another person with the bat;
- A person repeatedly uses their fists to punch another person, knocking them unconscious;
- Someone threatens to stab another with a chunk of broken glass;
- An individual attacks another person and hits them over and over again with their purse on the head;
- A driver purposely runs someone down with their car.
The courts must review every case on it own merits. This is because the court must determine how the potentially deadly weapon was used and how it was perceived by the victim. These factors obviously differ from case to case and are often difficult to determine.
Another factor the courts must consider when reviewing a case, is whether there is a valid defense — in other words, a reason or excuse — for the use of the deadly weapon or whether a deadly weapon was even used.
Possible defenses to assault with a deadly weapon can include:
- Self-defense or defense of another person;
- Mistake or misinterpretation on the victim’s part;
- There was no object used, only words were exchanged between the parties; and
- The defendant did not have the intent to harm the victim.
As with any legal matter, there are many layers to review and consider before determining an outcome.
If no valid defenses are applicable to the charge of assault with a deadly weapon, serious consequences may result. Courts across the United States do not take the crime of assault with a deadly weapon lightly. If charged and convicted, it can result in severe punishments.
Because it is a crime that involves violence, most states treat the crime as a felony offense. Depending on where one lives, the penalties can range from hefty fines to lengthy prison time, or both.
Assault with a deadly weapon is a serious crime that can result in life-changing consequences for both victims and defendants of the crime. The laws for assault with a deadly weapon vary from state-to-state. It is best to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney in your area as soon as possible.
A lawyer with experience working on assault with a deadly weapon charges will help you regarding your assault with a deadly weapon matter, so that you are able to move forward with your life.