If you're being charged with assault, understanding the differences between the various assault charges can help you significantly when it comes to bargaining and trial. Below is an overview of the three most common charges and what they can mean for you in terms of punishment.
Assault and Battery
This assault charge is perhaps the most well known, and the least understood. While each jurisdiction defines this charge differently (some separating the two charges completely), a basic understanding can be helpful.
Simply stated, assault is any threat towards the safety of another person. You can assault someone without physically harming them. Battery, on the other hand, usually refers to a physical act of violence against another human being. If you're being charged with battery, it's likely that you're also being charged with assault, which is why many jurisdictions don't bother to separate the two terms.
This is a misdemeanor crime which can be charged whether physical harm occurs or not. If a human's safety is threatened by another, even without a hand being raised, a simple assault charge can occur.
If you've been charged with simple assault, it's likely that your lawyer will try to get you a plea bargain. This will usually involve you pleading guilty to the charge while accepting lesser consequences, such as minimal jail time or anger management courses. While simple assault charges don't usually result in jail time, they can if there is a criminal record or if it's an act of domestic violence or violence against a protected citizen.
A felony crime that results in, or could have resulted in, the serious harm of a human with or without the use of a weapon. This is the most serious of the assault charges and should not be handled lightly.
When distinguishing between simple and aggravated assault, law enforcement will consider the intent behind the assault, as well as the means used or intended to be used. If you're charged with aggravated assault, it's likely your lawyer will try to plea you down to simple assault, as aggravated assault is a felony that includes jail time and can easily limit your future employment, schooling, and housing options.
If you're being charged with assault, it's important to understand the charges being brought against you, as well as the ways in which your attorney may be able to help. To learn more about your charges and the options available to you, contact a criminal law attorney such as Begley Carlin & Mandio LLP.