Assault charges can have serious consequences as to potential jail or prison time, and as to your ability to rent property, and own or possess a firearm and/or ammunition. Additionally, in assault cases, events that can significantly affect your criminal case occur quickly, such as protective orders. Protective orders include findings that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again, and can prevent you from living in your own home. And all this while your criminal case is pending. It is critical that you secure representation immediately following your arrest so your case does not spin out of control.
A person commits assault if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person, including the person’s spouse. “Bodily Injury” means pain, physical illness, any impairment of the physical condition. Assault can be everything from a Class C misdemeanor (where the contact is offensive or provocative; for example, spitting on someone), to a second degree felony (if a deadly weapon is used, or if the assault causes “a substantial risk of death”, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment.)
ASSAULT FAMILY VIOLENCE
Assault charges involving a household member, family member, or person with whom you have, or have had, a dating relationship are the most common assaultive arrests. When an argument with a spouse, household or family member becomes physical (or is alleged to have become physical), an Assault Family Violence charge typically follows. A first offense Assault Causing Bodily Injury Family Violence charge can carry a potential punishment of up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Furthermore, if you are placed on probation for, or convicted of Assault Family Violence, Federal Law prohibits you from owning or possessing a firearm or ammunition. This includes possession of a rifle for hunting, or handgun for self-defense.
However, if the assault involves choking or otherwise impeding the breathing of the alleged victim, the charge is felony offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If a person has previously been convicted of Assault Family Violence, a new arrest for Assault Family Violence can be enhanced to a felony offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
DEFENSES TO ASSAULT
Luckily, there are numerous defenses to assault charges, including that no assault occurred (that the victim simply made-up the charges.) Self-defense is also a common defense to assault. Defending an assault charge under these theories is not impossible, and I have been successful at trial on misdemeanor and felony assault cases using these defenses. While many people believe an affidavit of non-prosecution (an affidavit by the alleged victim stating the victim does not want to prosecute or press charges) is a defense, this is not true. The State brings the charges, not the victim. Meaning, even where the alleged victim does not want to the accused prosecuted for assault, the State can (and will often) still prosecute. Even if you have no defense, mitigation is crucial to avoiding jail or prison time.