What Makes an Assault Charge Aggravated?
Most people think of assault as a violent physical attack. In Arkansas, however, battery refers to offensive or illegal physical contact while assault refers to the act of creating apprehension of imminent physical injury, such as waving your fist in someone’s face.
Other examples of assault include:
- Threatening to kill someone
- Swinging a punch and missing
- Brandishing a deadly weapon
- Throwing an object at someone
As you can see, it doesn’t take a lot to get accused of assault. A simple threat such as, “You should sleep with one eye open because I’m coming for you” could convince someone they are in immediate danger. Grabbing a knife from the kitchen and waving it around at your spouse could also bring about assault charges.
Arkansas divides assault into third, second, and first-degrees, with first-degree assault being the most serious. If convicted of this offense, you’re looking at the following consequences:
Third-degree assault: Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or $500 fines. This offense is committed when a person purposely creates an apprehension of imminent physical injury in another person.
Second-degree assault: Committed when a person recklessly creates a substantial risk of physical injury to another person. This is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or $1,000 fines.
First-degree assault: Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and/or $2,500 fines. This crime is committed when a person does the following:
- Recklessly creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person; or
- Purposely impedes or prevents another person’s respiration or blood circulation by applying pressure on their throat or neck or by blocking their nose or mouth
Which Is Worse, Assault or Aggravated Assault?
Aggravating factors increase the severity or culpability of a crime. Examples of aggravating factors include:
- Pointing a gun at someone
- Use of a weapon
- Involvement of children or elderly adults
- Prior convictions
- Degree of harm
As such, if a reported offense involves aggravating factors, the punishments will be more severe upon conviction. Assault accusations are bad enough, but aggravated assault charges involve a higher degree of harm and are thus more serious. With this in mind, aggravated assault occurs when a person does the following:
- Engages in conduct that creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person
- Displays a firearm in a manner that creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person
- Impedes or prevents another person’s respiration or blood circulation by applying pressure on their throat or neck or by blocking their nose or mouth
What Is the Penalty for Aggravated Assault in Arkansas?
Aggravated assault is a Class D felony punishable by up to 6 years in prison and/or $10,000 fines upon conviction. Not only that, but you will deal with a criminal record that could follow you for years. As a result, you will have trouble securing a job, housing, loans, higher education, and more. The social, personal, and professional consequences of an aggravated assault conviction can be devastating.
Defenses to Aggravated Assault
You may be wondering, “How do I defend myself against aggravated assault charges?” With the help of a good attorney, you may be able to get your charges reduced or dropped altogether by employing the following defenses in your case:
- Law enforcement officer acting in the scope of your duties
- Lack of intent/accidental
- Mistaken identity
- Police misconduct
Facing aggravated assault charges in Northwest Arkansas? While we can’t guarantee a favorable outcome in your case, we can guarantee our lawyers will go the extra mile to aggressively defend your freedom and strategically negotiate for the best possible result in your case. To get started, schedule your free consultation online or at (479) 235-4600!