What is Assault?
Assault can involve making mere threats of violence to actually inflicting bodily harm on another individual. Misdemeanor assault, or simple assault can be charged when an individual puts another person in fear of bodily harm, touches another with the intent of causing physical harm, or causes physical injury.
Aggravated Assault involves so-called aggravating circumstances such as whether the assault results in a serious physical injury or was committed with a deadly weapon, among others. Aggravated assault is a felony charge and a conviction can result in a lengthy prison sentence.
There are all sorts of ways that people who know each other, friends or family, find themselves facing criminal charges for aggravated assault. A disagreement in a bar escalates into a physical fight at closing time and a gun or knife is used or threatened to be used. A couple leaves a party and a simple romantic confrontation grows into a physical altercation with someone seriously hurt. Roommates who don’t get along suddenly come to blows and someone is injured with a weapon considered to be a “deadly weapon” under Arkansas law. Pull a gun or a knife during a fight, even if it’s only for show and isn’t used, and in Arkansas, the situation just escalated to a potential felony conviction.
Assault is an act of violence or a threat of violence. Because an assault charge is violent in nature, judges take these cases very seriously. Depending on the individual circumstances of the situation and whether or not you were carrying a weapon, assault charges can be misdemeanor or felony. If a police or other law enforcement officer witnesses a person striking or try to cause bodily harm to another person, they can arrest the individual immediately and charge them with assault. A person does not need to physically touch another to be charged with assault. Simply threatening violence and invoking fear in the other person is enough for a Fort Smith police officer to charge you. In cases like this where there is no violence, only threats, a conviction can still land you in jail with several hundred dollars in fines.
Classifications of Assault
What is simple assault? If someone sustains minor injuries in an altercation where physical violence occurs, the aggressor can be charged with simple assault. Third degree assault may occur if you purposefully create the fear of imminent physical injury to another person. Third degree assault in Arkansas is a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Second degree assault is when one recklessly engages in behavior that places a substantial risk of physical injury on another individual. Second degree assault is a Class B misdemeanor in Arkansas with up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
First degree assault occurs when a defendant recklessly engages in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person, or
purposefully impedes or prevents the respiration of another person or the circulation of another person’s blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck, or by blocking the person’s nose or mouth. First degree assault is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
You can also be charged with a felony if the assault is aggravated. Aggravated assault convictions can be punishable in Arkansas by up to 6 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. This charge involves conduct that places a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person. Aggravated assault can occur when someone commits assault while holding or possessing a firearm. They need not use the gun while the crime was committed to have the assault charges enhanced to aggravated assault. It can also happen during an altercation if one party grabs the other by the throat as restrict the airway.
Falsely Accused of Assault?
It can and does happen. Because assault charges can be filed without physical content, or when gently physical contact is made that someone might find offensive or provocative (a zealous tap on the shoulder could lead to a false accusation of assault), getting a skilled legal defense attorney on your side is critical.
If you find yourself falsely accused of assault in Arkansas, we can help. Whether you have been charged with misdemeanor assault or felony aggravated assault, you need to hire a Fort Smith criminal defense attorney who knows how to handle cases like these. Attorney David Powell uses his years of experience successfully defending and protecting the rights of individuals in the Sebastian and Crawford County areas and throughout the entire state of Arkansas against allegations of violence. If you or a loved one are facing these severe charges, call our Fort Smith office today at (479) 785-0123.
The Law Office of David L. Powell, PLC serves clients in Fort Smith, Van Buren, Greenwood, and throughout the state of Arkansas.