Felony assault, or aggravated assault, is a more serious form of simple assault. Simple assault is defined as an intentional act that causes another person to fear that they will be subject to bodily harm or offensive contact. Assault charges require that the defendant have the intent to either harm or cause fear to another person. Assault cannot be charged for accidental actions. For an act to rise to the level of felony assault, the defendant’s actions must constitute a simple assault plus there must be an additional aggravating factor.
A few possible aggravating factors include:
- Assaults with 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
- Attempts to harm with a motor vehicle or “vehicular assault”
- Assaults involving attempting to harm a police officer
- Conducting an assault in protected locations such as a school zone, public transit station, or government office
- A history of repeated assault or battery convictions
- Assaults against protected groups of people (e.g. children and the elderly)
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:
- Prison sentence greater than 1 year
- Felony charges on one’s record (these may be permanent as felony charges are somewhat difficult to expunge). This may affect future employment opportunities.
- Potential exposure to a civil lawsuit to compensate for the victim’s injuries or losses
- Loss of right to own a firearm
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.
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. An experienced criminal lawyer can explain the elements of your case, identify possible defenses, and represent you in court.