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Assault definition, degrees of assault and sentences

assault definition, degrees of assault

There are several degrees of assault which have been classified according to their severity and some qualifying circumstances. Assault is a serious crime and irrespective of the categorization, one can expect severe sentences when found guilty.

In this article, the various degrees of assault are explained with details on sentencing, the aggravating factors and their differences. Let’s begin by defining assault.

What is assault?

Assault refers to the violent or willful effort with force to inflict hurt on another without necessarily being in a physical contact with the person. The apprehension of the person of imminent harm after the act constitutes assault. There are several forms of assault which include:

  • Verbal assault
  • physical assault

To prove assault, it must be shown that the defendant’s action amounted to assault, that the defendant intended his/her actions to cause the victim to apprehend imminent harm and finally, that the victim reasonably apprehended imminent harm owing to the defendants actions.

Degrees of assault

Generally, there are four degrees of assault which are classified according to the severity of the willful force used and also other aggravating factors. Some states however, classify assault into just two categories, simple and aggravated assault. Below, the degrees are explained in order of increasing severity.

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Third degree assault

This is the least severe charge of assault and involves a person recklessly inflicting bodily harm on another human being or causing the victim to perceive an imminent danger of bodily harm. Third degree assault is a considered a misdemeanor and carries a sentence of up to 1 year in jail or fines of up to $1000.

Second degree assault

This constitutes a more serious offense and involves knowingly causing another person to be reasonably fearful of an imminent serious bodily harm through an act or using a deadly weapon. This is a felony offense.

First degree assault

This is a very serious offense and involves intentionally causing a person to be in fear of imminent and serious bodily harm or injury using a deadly weapon. First degree assault is a felony.

Aggravated assault

There are several factors that can lead to an aggravated assault charge and these differ from state to state. Generally, some aggravating factors include:

  • Committing the offense with a deadly weapon.
  • If the victim is a protected person by law such as a minor, an elderly person, a mentally ill person or an officer of the law
  • assault with intent to commit other crimes such as rape, theft.
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Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon

This involves the use of a deadly weapon such as a firearm to intentionally cause another person to be in fear of imminent and severe bodily harm.

Aggravated assault punishment

Aggravated assault is a serious felony offense that carry a prison sentence exceeding 1 year. Depending on the peculiar circumstances and other factors such as remorse, a judge may decide at his/her discretion whether to let defendant serve the entirety of the sentence or part in prison while making up for the rest through alternative corrections such as probation.

More severe or enhanced sentencing exists in some states especially when the victim is a protected person such as a police officer, minor, elderly person etc. Also such severe sentencing can be applied when the aggravating factor is the use of a firearm or certain types of firearm.

Aggravated assault Georgia

In Georgia, aggravated assault consist of an assault with the intent to rape, kill or rob another or an assault involving the use of a deadly weapon that can be used to cause serious bodily harm or strangulation. Discharging a firearm from a vehicle also constitute aggravated assault in the state of Georgia. You can read more on aggravated vehicular assault.

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Aggravated assault Georgia sentence

If convicted, a person can be mandatorily sentenced to between three and twenty-five years in prison for aggravated assault Georgia, fines and restitution can also be applied. The sentence will depend on the nature of the aggravation.

Assault vs Battery

Battery refers to an offensive physical contact of a person such as hitting someone with a fist, slapping, hitting someone with a stick, bat or any object that inflicts bodily harm, pain or injury.

While assault does not require physical contact and only the infliction of fear of an imminent harm, battery requires that there’s actual physical contact.

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