Assault is a crime defined as intentionally, recklessly, or negligently causing physical injury to another person with or without a weapon. There are many degrees of punishment for assault and the facts of your case can mean the difference between prison and a fine. If you are being charged with assault, contact Heiferman & Associates. Our criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge and skills necessary to protect your rights.
Degrees of Assault
There are three degrees of criminal assault in New York. The different degrees of assault are separated by the extent of physical harm inflicted on the victim. Lesser physical harm carries a lesser degree and lower punishment while more serious physical harm carries a greater degree and more serious punishment. Other factors, known as aggravating factors, can also result in greater punishment.
Assault in the Third Degree
Assault in the third degree occurs when a person intentionally, recklessly, or negligently causes physical injury to another person. Third-degree assault is the least severe charge for assault and is typically used when the physical harm involves a fist-fight or another altercation where a weapon is not involved. Many domestic violence cases are charged as Assault in the third degree.
Assault in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison, probation of up to three years, or a fine of up to $1,000.
Assault in the Second Degree
Assault in the second degree is a more serious and broader criminal charge. There are three general categories where second degree assault charges apply.
- Intentionally causing physical injury
- A person is guilty of second-degree assault if he or she intentionally causes serious physical injury to another person or intentionally causes physical injury to another person using a dangerous weapon or deadly instrument.
- Serious physical injury is an injury that creates great risk of death, results in disfigurement, drawn-out health consequences or loss of an organ. This type of injury is more than a black eye or a cut but would include broken bones, beating until unconscious, or injuries requiring surgery to repair.
- Use of a dangerous weapon or deadly instrument refers to an object that could be used to cause serious physical injuries, such as a knife, pipe, brick, or rock.
- Recklessly causing serious physical injury
- A person is also guilty of second-degree assault if he or she recklessly causes serious physical injury using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
- The difference between intentional and reckless cause of serious physical injury comes down to the person’s intent, or whether he or she meant for the injury to occur. The use of a dangerous weapon or deadly instrument elevates an unintended assault from third to second degree because the potential for physical harm is greater.
- Many times, this charge applies when a person intends to cause serious physical injury with a dangerous weapon or deadly instrument but only causes a minor physical injury. The use of the dangerous weapon or deadly instrument still elevates the charge.
- Injury to an official, child, or elderly person
- Third-degree assault is elevated to second-degree where the victim is a public official and a person caused a physical injury by acting with intent to prevent the official from performing a lawful duty. Examples of such officials include police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and train operators but may also include other types of public officials such as social workers.
- Assaulting a victim younger than eighteen or older than sixty-five can also result in a charge of second-degree assault if the person was older than eighteen and in the case of an elderly person, at least ten years younger than the victim.
Second degree assault is a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Assault in the First Degree
Assault in the first degree is the most serious version of assault and occurs in four instances.
- Intentionally causing serious physical injury with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
- Intentionally disfiguring another person or causing harm to another person or an organ.
- Recklessly, without concern for human life, acting in a way that creates a risk of death and causes serious physical injury to another person.
- Causing serious physical injury to another person in the course of committing or fleeing from the commission of another felony.
Assault in the first degree is a class B felony punishable by up to twenty-five years in prison.
The facts and circumstances surrounding the assault also play a role in the seriousness of the crime and punishment.
- Serious physical injury to a public official to prevent the performance of a lawful duty.
- Just as causing a physical injury to a public official such as a police officer, firefighter, or EMT elevates the crime to second-degree assault, causing serious physical injury to such an official or judge elevates the crime to a class C felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.
- Serious physical injury to a police officer using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
- Causing serious physical injury to a police officer with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument elevates the charge to a class B felony punishable by up to twenty-five years in prison.
- Serious physical injury to a child by daycare provider.
- Recklessly causing serious physical injury to a child entrusted in a person’s care elevates the charge to a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
- Serious physical injury by vehicle.
- Causing serious physical injury while operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a second degree assault and a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
- Additional aggravating factors, such as operating the vehicle with a minor under the age of fifteen in the vehicle or injury more than one person elevate the charge to a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. A reckless driving charge elevates the assault charge to a class C felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.
Contact Our Queens Assault Defense Attorney
There are many levels of punishment for assault depending on the degree and aggravating factors. In most cases, key facts can be the difference between a prison sentence and probation or a fine. At Heiferman & Associates, we have the experience to identify these key facts and protect your rights, achieving the best result for you. We pride ourselves on paying close attention to details in the evidence in our clients’ cases. It provides our clients with the best possible outcome whether at trial or during plea negotiations. Contact us today for a consultation regarding your case.