Understanding Specific Assault Terms
If you have been charged with assault, then you may be confused about the legal difficulties facing you. This is common, especially since there are quite a few terms associated with assault charges. Keep reading to learn about a few and what they may mean in regards to your legal consequences.
Assault, Battery, and Degree
Battery used to be a term used to describe a specific offense in which an individual physically touches, hits, or strikes a person. Basically, battery indicated a follow-through of an assault threat where a person was injured. Assault, on the other hand, is used to describe a situation where a person feels a threat of physical harm and may or may not be injured. So, there may be no physical contact with an assault.
While battery is a specific legal term of its own, it is not often used separately anymore. Assault and battery charges are much more common, and many of the statutes on the books in the majority of the United States combine assault and battery into a specific offense. In some states, like New York, the term assault is used alone and battery is no longer a charge, in addition to assault or on its own.
However, you should know that even if the term battery is not used, you may still be in legal trouble for physically striking someone. First, second, and third degree assault charges may be filed instead. The differences between the degree of the assault is based on your intention and your frame of mind. More serious offenses, which are classified as first degree assault, involve intentionally trying to cause injury and the use of a weapon.
A first degree assault or first degree assault and battery charge can mean a maximum sentence of life in prison while a third degree one can carry a maximum of 10 years in prison. This is the case in Texas for example. So, it is incredibly important to understand the specific charge and the degree associated with it.
Aggravated is a legal term that means a crime is more serious, and it is used instead of the word "simple." In the context of assault, simple assault and aggravated assault are two charges you may see. In many states, a simple assault is considered a misdemeanor while an aggravated one is a felony.
So, what makes a crime more serious? It depends on the circumstances surrounding the crime. For example, if the assault took place with a gun or another deadly weapon, this would increase its seriousness. This is also true if you intended to severely hurt someone. If you intended to murder someone, then you may be charged with attempted murder. Attempted murder charges and aggravated assault charges are often filed at the same time.
The status of the victim can turn a simple assault into an aggravated one too. This is likely if it involved a police officer, firefighter, or another type of public servant like a teacher. You may see the charge as well if the victim was elderly or extremely young.
Another incidence where aggravated assault is considered is when an injury is caused while another crime is being committed. For example, if you were trying to sell someone a gun illegally and then you used the gun to threaten or shoot at someone, then this could be a case of aggravated assault. Your specific criminal history may increase the seriousness of the charge too, like if you have been convicted of assault previously.
Sometimes an assault will not be considered an aggravated one if you were committing a misdemeanor at the time. However, if you are committing a felony, then you will almost certainly be charged with an aggravated assault.
If you want to know more about assault and what the specific charges against you mean, then contact services such as Walter Bailey Law Firm.