When used in a criminal law context, assault generally refers to the criminal act of intentionally causing another person to be reasonably apprehensive of imminent bodily harm, or offensive contact/touching. This definition is subject to change according to the laws of the jurisdiction hearing the case.

However, the standard case for assault would be:

  1. The defendant must have intended to create apprehension or awareness in the victim. An accidental act will not usually result in assault charges; it must be intentional. This is the opposite of the crime of battery;
  2. The prosecutor must then prove that the victim reasonably believed that they would be harmed or offended by the defendant’s conduct. Another way of putting this is that the victim must be aware of, or be able to appreciate, the defendant’s potential to harm or offend them;
  3. The plaintiff’s apprehension of impending injury must be both reasonable and one that creates a sense of immediate, physical danger. This belief cannot be based on a future act, it must be based on more than a verbal threat. However, there are some exceptions to this last condition in some jurisdictions; and
  4. The defendant must display a present intention to harm or offend the victim by way of a physical act.

Some of the most common examples of assault include, but may not be limited to:

  • Attempting to spit on the plaintiff;
  • Miming the act of hitting, punching, or kicking the victim;
  • Using either a deadly or non-deadly weapon in such a way that suggests to the victim that they will be hit with that object; and
  • Pointing a gun at the victim, regardless of whether the gun is loaded.

Additionally, some states maintain statutes defining assault as “criminal attempted battery.” However, assault and battery are not to be confused with each other, as the majority of jurisdictions treat the two crimes as separate offenses.

A simple way of remembering the difference between the two crimes is that battery requires the use of force and actual contact. Assault requires that the victim reasonably believes or is aware of the fact that they are in danger of imminent harm, regardless of whether physical injury occurs.

What Is Aggravated Assault?

Aggravated assault is a crime that is considered to be a more serious form of assault and battery. This more serious crime could result in a criminal felony charge, as opposed to a misdemeanor charge. Aggravated assault generally involves physical actions which result in serious bodily harm. An example of this would be an assault made with a deadly weapon, such as a knife.

Many states classify assaults as either simple or aggravated; this depends on the severity of harm that occured, or harm that was likely to occur if the assailant would have struck their victim. Additionally, some states may further classify aggravated assault as either being first degree, second degree, or third degree assault. This classification is generally based on the seriousness of the harm inflicted.

The term “aggravating factor” refers to any circumstance related to the crime which somehow makes the crime itself worse. Aggravating factors are an important distinction because they could significantly increase the penalty associated with the crime. What constitutes an aggravating factor is determined by statute.

However, some examples of commonly accepted factors include, but may not be limited to:

  • A prior criminal record;
  • The defendant’s intent;
  • Whether any tools were used to commit the crime;
  • Cruelty (or, how the crime was committed); and/or
  • Treason.

Aggravated assault may also be referred to as felony assault. Felony assault uses the same overall concept as a misdemeanor assault; meaning, some extra factor is included, which causes the crime to be viewed as being more severe. Because of this, felony assault carries considerably larger consequences.

What Is Simple Assault In Georgia? How Is Aggravated Assault Defined In Georgia?

As previously mentioned, state laws vary in terms of what constitutes assault and aggravated assault. In Georgia specifically, simple assault is defined as both placing a victim in fear of an immediate violent injury, and an attempt to inflict a violent injury on an individual. What this means is that it does not matter if the victim did not suffer an injury resulting from the simple assault. According to Georgia law, a misdemeanor simple assault conviction carries a penalty of one year spent in county jail, and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000.

Aggravated assault is defined as an attempted battery, done with a deadly weapon, the use of which resulting in serious bodily injury. The term can also be used to refer to any assault committed with the intent to rob, murder, or rape the victim. In Georgia, what constitutes a deadly weapon is anything such as an instrument, device, or object. This object is used to, and will most likely, cause serious bodily harm.

Some common examples of what constitutes a deadly weapon under Georgia law includes, but may not be limited to:

  • A gun, whether loaded or not;
  • A knife, such as a kitchen knife or pocket knife;
  • A baseball bat, whether wood or aluminum; and
  • A simple stick, such as one you would pick up off the ground.

According to these Georgia laws and definitions, a person may be accused of aggravated assault when they only fired their gun. An example of this would be how a person may be charged with aggravated assault when they discharge a gun from within a motor vehicle, toward another person.

The person who fires the gun must not have legal justification to fire the gun in order for the incident to be considered aggravated assault. The incident may not be considered aggravated assault if the person firing the gun did so under specific circumstances, such as a last resort attempt at self defense.

What Is The Punishment For Georgia Aggravated Assault?

Under Georgia criminal law, aggravated law is considered to be a felony crime. If a person is convicted of criminal aggravated assault, and it is a first time offense, the will most likely face the following legal consequences:

  • A sentence of between one and twenty years, to be spent in a federal prison facility;
  • A minimum prison sentence of three years, if convicted of aggravated assault by discharging a firearm from a moving vehicle;
  • Probation, lasting up to twenty years;
  • A criminal fine of up to $100,000; and
  • Restitution, as determined by the court.

It is important to note that punishment for Georgia aggravated assault can be enhanced under specific circumstances. If the convicted committed the crime on public transport property, or in a public transit vehicle, the court is required to levy a minimum sentence of three, five, or ten years spent in a federal prison facility. The same applies if the victim is named in the state’s statute. Some examples of those named include, but may not be limited to:

  • A family member;
  • An intimate partner;
  • A person who is aged 65 years or older;
  • Law enforcement; or
  • A corrections officer.

Repeat offenders may be ordered to serve the maximum sentence.

Do I Need An Attorney For Georgia Aggravated Assault?

Because state laws vary in terms of what constitutes aggravated assault, and how the crime is punished, it is advised that you consult with an experienced and local attorney. As such, if you are being accused of aggravated assault in Georgia, you should consult with a Georgia criminal defense lawyer, as they will be local to you.

An experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney can help you understand the charges against you, what your legal options are, and whether there are any legal defenses available to you based on the specifics of your case. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.