Aggravated assault is an assault which yields greater punishment from the law based on its severity. Several factors determine whether an assault will be heightened to an aggravated assault. These include the state and profile of the victim, the intent of the aggressor, the extent of harm caused and the utilization of a weapon. Commonly, aggravated assaults are classified as felonies, and regular assaults are classed as misdemeanors.
The utilization of a lethal weapon in an assault is categorized as aggravated assault. It doesn’t matter if the lethal weapon led to harm or not. Simple assault doesn’t need physical harm to have taken place. If the victim is put in a position where they reasonably fear for their safety, it’s still considered assault. If the assault involves the use of a lethal weapon, then it will be categorized as aggravated assault. Generally, lethal weapons are classified as weapons that can cause serious harm if not death. In certain circumstances, a tool as simple as a pocket knife may be classified as a deadly weapon, if, for example, it is placed on the victim’s throat.
The status of the victim can also lead to an assault being escalated to aggravated assault. If the assault is directed at a police officer, firefighter or even a teacher, then in several states the penalty is an aggravated assault, but this entails that the aggressor knew of the victim’s status and continued with the assault knowing that the victim was trying to perform their duty. The intent and mental state of the perpetrator is also very important. For instance, if the perpetrator failed to cause severe harm but had every intention of causing severe harm, then it can still be classified as aggravated assault. The severity of harm caused is of course also an important factor as severe harm can cause a simple assault to be escalated to aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault charges may have serious repercussions on your life and possibly lead to jail time if you are convicted. Therefore, if you have been accused of aggravated assault, it is important to consult a criminal defense attorney who can help you fight the charges.