Assault is an attempted battery or placing an individual in fear of a violent injury. A person does not have to physically harm an individual to be charged with assault in Georgia.

Aggravated assault in the state is defined as using a deadly weapon to place an individual in fear of a violent injury while trying to murder, rob, or rape them.

What Are Assault And Battery? How Are Assault And Battery Punished?

Assault and battery should not be confused. An effortless way to remember the distinction between the two crimes is that battery requires the use of force and actual contact; an assault requires the victim to reasonably think or be aware that they are in danger of imminent harm, even if no actual physical injury occurs.

To put it simply, assault and battery refer to a combined attempt and act of making harmful contact with another individual.

Regarding the charge of assault and battery, the penalties depend on whether you are being charged with simple assault or battery or if you are being charged with aggravated assault or aggravated battery. Penalties are primarily determined by the type of harm inflicted on the victim.

An example of this would be if the victim’s harm resulted in serious injury or it was determined that the defendant intended to kill the victim, the judge could order a harsher penalty and sentence. A judge may also impose a harsher penalty if other aggravating factors are present, such as a specific identifying aspect of the victim.

Some common examples of potential punishments include, but may not be limited to:

  • The severity of the crime determines imprisonment, the length of which;
  • Parole or probation;
  • Court-ordered, mandatory anger management classes;
  • Significant fines, the amount of which are determined by the severity of the crime; and
  • Loss of the right to possess firearms.

Further, the crime will be recorded on the defendant’s criminal record.

If you are found guilty of committing the crime of assault and battery, you may also be held civilly liable. This means that your victim could sue you for causing them harm. If their case against you is victorious, you could be liable for the following expenses associated with the victim’s:

  • Physical injuries;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Out of pocket medical expenses;
  • Hospital expenses;
  • Prescriptions; and
  • Wages missed from work because of the injuries sustained.

What Is Assault by an HIV- or Hepatitis-Infected Person?

An assault by an HIV- or hepatitis-infected person is a crime that can only be committed by someone who knows that they are infected with HIV or hepatitis. A person commits this crime when they commit assault by using their:

  • Bodily fluid, such as semen, blood, or vaginal secretions
  • Urine
  • Saliva
  • Feces

Criminal transmission of HIV is the intentional or reckless infection of a person with HIV. Spitting and biting are not realistic modes of transmission. HIV non-disclosure includes intentional transmission, accidental transmission, unknowing transmission, and exposure to HIV without transmission. People have been accused and charged with HIV non-disclosure even if no harm was intended and HIV was not actually transmitted.

Can I Be Arrested for Assaulting Anyone?

No. A person can only be arrested for this kind of assault if they assault a police officer or correctional officer. Also, the officer must be performing their official duties when they are attacked for the assault to be this specific crime.

Is Trying to Assault an Officer Using My HIV or Hepatitis Status Considered Reckless Conduct?

No, it is considered an intentional crime. To be reckless shows a total disregard for human life. Generally, recklessness is a form of negligence and is not a part of intentional action.

How Do You Prove Negligence?

Negligence has four major parts that must be shown to recover for injuries. Those parts are duty, breach, causation, and damages. Even if those four parts are shown and negligence is established, a defense might still mitigate how much a defending party must pay.

Duty
A duty is a responsibility one individual owes to another. In general, people going about their business owe a duty of ‘reasonable care.’ ‘Reasonable care’ is the care an ordinary and prudent person would use in the same situation.

Breach
A breach happens when an individual’s care falls below the level required by their duty.

Causation
The breach of duty must be the cause of injury. The legal test for causation is a bit more complicated than that, but the basic test is, “but for” one party’s actions, the injury would not have happened.

Damages
In general, there has to be some harm that occurred. The type of injury can vary, from property damage to emotional stress to lost wages.

All of the above need to be present to determine that the other party was successfully negligent. If one of the above cannot be proven, then negligence cannot be established.

What Is the Penalty for HIV or Hepatitis Assault of an Officer in Georgia?

This crime is a felony under Georgia law. A person convicted of using bodily fluids to assault an officer in Georgia will be sentenced to five to 20 years in prison.

Update to Georgia State HIV Laws

The Georgia House passed a bill updating the state’s HIV laws for the first time since the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

House Bill 719 reduces or eliminates criminal penalties for having sex, sharing needles, and donating blood without disclosing a positive HIV status. Having sex without telling a partner you’re HIV-positive is still a felony under the version of the bill passed, but the punishment is decreased from 10 years in prison to five. The bill also specifies that a person must have intended to infect their sexual partner with HIV to be prosecuted.

The legislation eliminates penalties for sharing needles and donating blood without disclosing an HIV-positive status. It also strikes HIV-specific penalties for assaulting officers. The existing regulations regarding actions, including spitting on officers, are scientifically inaccurate, as HIV is not spread through saliva.

The bill passed with bipartisan support 124-40. Rep. Marc Morris, R-Cumming, questioned what the bill would accomplish by reducing the penalty for intentionally spreading HIV, saying he knew a young man who was intentionally, unknowingly infected by a partner.

Sam Park, D-Lawrenceville, said that eliminating and changing old HIV laws will help make more individuals feel comfortable getting tested for the disease and disclosing their status.

How Is HIV Spread?

HIV is spread by transmission of these bodily fluids:

  • Blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, breast milk, rectal fluids, or vaginal fluids of an HIV-positive individual comes into contact with an HIV-negative person’s mucous membrane or bloodstream.

HIV transmission can happen through:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Sharing needles or other tools in injection drug use
  • Deliberately attacking individuals with HIV infected needles
  • Mother-to-child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding
  • Receiving a blood transfusion or organ donation – although this is doubtful because blood and organ donations are extensively tested for HIV

Do I Need an Attorney?

Legal representation is generally necessary when one is facing a felony criminal charge. It is vital to work with a Georgia criminal attorney to build the best defense necessary to win your criminal assault case.

Knowingly infecting others with HIV can lead to criminal prosecution. In that case, you will need a criminal lawyer. You can be convicted for spreading HIV intentionally.