The term violent crime, or crime of violence, refers to any type of crime committed by a defendant that involves a threat to use harmful physical contact or the actual use of harmful physical contact against another individual.
During incidents where the defendant decides to follow through with their threat and intentionally inflicts harm on a victim, it often results in a very serious injury and in some cases, even death.
There are many different kinds of crimes that can also be classified as a type of violent crime, such as the following:
- Aggravated assault;
- Various degrees of homicide;
- Gang-related violence;
- Sexual assault;
- Robbery (e.g., theft by force); and
- DUI vehicular homicide.
Additionally, violent crimes do not necessarily mean that the crime was committed with a weapon. It generally only means that some sort of violent act occurred as either an element of the crime (e.g., robbery) or while the defendant was in the course of committing another crime (e.g., kidnapping).
Finally, depending on the state and local laws in your area, violent crimes can include conduct that ranges from homicide to mere harassment. Therefore, if you have been charged with committing a crime of violence, then you should contact a criminal defense attorney for further assistance.
What are the Punishments for a Violent Crime?
The punishments that a defendant can receive for committing a violent crime are generally quite severe. The reason for this is because violent crimes tend to be considered felonies, which often carry harsh penalties.
For example, for violent crimes categorized as felonies, such as homicide or sexual assault, the typical punishment that a defendant receives may include a prison sentence of at least one year and can extend up to 5 or 10 years or longer, depending on the severity of the charges.
Less serious incidents of violent crimes, such as battery, can lead to a maximum prison sentence of one year served in a county jail facility.
Another legal consequence that may result from such offenses are criminal fines. This is true in cases of either misdemeanors or felonies; the only difference being that a felony charge will result in the defendant having to pay a larger fine.
In addition, crimes that would normally be prosecuted as a misdemeanor could result in more serious penalties if there are any aggravating factors present.
For instance, battery is usually considered a misdemeanor offense. However, the battery may rise to the level of a felony offense if it involves serious bodily harm, the use of a weapon, or if the act of battery was inflicted upon a child, a pregnant woman, or a police officer.
Are There Any Defenses for Violent Crime?
There are several defenses that a defendant may be able to use against a charge for a violent crime. The most frequently asserted defenses often include self-defense, intoxication, and mistake of fact.
Self-defense is a pretty common defense, especially for crimes that involve some sort of attack, fight, or altercation between two people.
In such cases, the assistance of a lawyer can be indispensible when it comes to sorting out which party should be held responsible for the resulting injuries.
Additionally, a lawyer can also be beneficial when a defendant is using an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is basically one that negates an element of the crime.
For example, if a prosecutor brings a case against a defendant for robbery, but is not able to prove either that the defendant is the person who committed the crime or that they did not use a threat of force to steal an item from the victim, then the defendant may not be liable for robbery.
As with most crimes, the defenses available will depend on a state’s criminal statutes, as well as the facts surrounding each case. Also, while not all defenses will completely remove the charges, they can sometimes help to reduce the sentence or amount of fines received.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help with Violent Crime Charges?
As discussed above, being charged with a violent crime can lead to some very serious legal consequences. Thus, if you are facing charges for a crime of violence, then you should consider contacting a local criminal defense attorney immediately.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to explain the laws in your area that apply to your case, as well as the type of punishments you should expect to receive from the court.
A lawyer can also help you to prepare your case, determine whether there are any defenses available for you to use to reduce your charges, and can provide representation on your behalf during court proceedings.
Finally, should you decide to enter into a plea bargain, an attorney can explain the process, any consequences associated with accepting it, and represent you during the discussion with the prosecutors as well.