Assault occurs when a person’s intentional act creates a fear of imminent physical harm or of touching that can reasonably be considered offensive. Assault can occur even if there is no actual contact between the offender and the victim. Some jurisdictions create different categories, or “degrees”, of assault based on the seriousness of the offense. These usually include 1st through 3rd degree assault categories, with 1st degree assault being the most severe.
Though the exact definitions may vary from state to state, degrees of assault may be characterized as follows:
Thus, the difference in assault degrees often depends on the intent and mind state of the defendant. The more intentional the act, the more serious the charges. Other factors that might change the degree include the nature of the victim (i.e. whether the victim is a child or minor) and whether the assault involves conduct of a sexual nature.
2nd degree assault convictions are typically felony convictions. Thus, for 2nd degree assault, penalties may include prison terms of 2 to 20 years, as well as criminal fines of up to $30,000.
Depending on the circumstances, 2nd degree assault punishments may be “enhanced” (i.e. increased), which results in longer sentences and greater fines. This can happen for instance if the defendant is a repeat offender.
Like any criminal charge, a person facing 2nd degree assault charges may be able to claim a legal defense. Some common defenses for assault are self-defense, intoxication, and coercion. Claiming a defense requires a thorough knowledge of criminal laws and statutes, so professional legal assistance may be needed when formulating a criminal defense.
Assault charges can often have varied levels of complexity depending on state and local laws. You may need to hire a criminal law attorney in your area if you need assistance with any types of criminal charges. Your lawyer can provide you with legal research and advice regarding your criminal defense strategy. Also, your attorney can accompany you during court hearings and provide representation during the process.
Last Modified: 06-18-2015 09:24 AM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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