What is Felony Assault?

Felony assault, also referred to as assault, is a term that is used to label a specific type of crime. Although the exact definition of assault varies from state to state, it is generally defined as an intentional act that causes another individual to become aware of the very fact that they're going to soon be subject to immediate physical harm. The individual charged with felony assault should hire a felony assault lawyer to represent him in court.

An assault doesn't require the use of any physical force, but it does need to involve an act that's more serious than a verbal threat. In other words, the victim must be absolutely certain that they're close to being injured by some violent action, which can be performed by the defendant.

When the offense committed fits the above description, it will presumably be deemed to be a misdemeanor assault or simple assault. Misdemeanor assault is the least severe type of assault and often leads to lesser legal penalties.

In contrast, a felony assault is described using an equivalent underlying concept as a misdemeanor assault, but during this case, it adds some extra factor that causes the crime to be viewed together that is more severe and carries weightier consequences.

An assault is going to be charged as a felony when the defendant not only causes the opposite person to feel as if they're close to being the victim of immediate and serious bodily harm (i.e., simple assault) but also involves some extra aggravating factor.

Finally, it should be noted that assault does not always need to occur with battery. These are two separate crimes. However, there are a couple of states that have merged them into one criminal offense (i.e., assault and battery).

What Can Turn Misdemeanor Assault into Felony Assault?

As previously mentioned, the laws of a specific state will largely dictate which assault crimes are going to be classified as a misdemeanor versus which of them are considered felonies.

The reason for this uncertainty is because each state has its own separate criminal statutes that outline and categorize whether a criminal offense should be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor offense, and more specifically when a misdemeanor offense should rise to the extent of a felony. An experienced felony assault lawyer can help the defendant formulate a defense to get a favorable outcome.

For instance, a misdemeanor assault may occur when a defendant threatens to strike the victim with their fist. Misdemeanor assaults are often charged as a felony assault when the defendant threatens to strike the victim with a deadly weapon (or another item) that might inflict greater harm on the victim than a fist would if the defendant’s threat is carried out (i.e., the assault becomes a battery).

Aside from an assault committed with a deadly weapon, other aggravating factors which will turn a misdemeanor assault into a felony assault include the type of victim (e.g., a police officer or a child) involved, the extent of harm done physically, and whether the defendant was a repeat offender or a first-time offender.

What are the Penalties for Felony Assault?

Every state has enacted its own sentencing guidelines for when an individual is convicted of felony assault charges. Again, since felony assault is taken into account as a way more serious crime than misdemeanor assault, the legal penalties will match the extent of severity.

Generally speaking, the punishment for felony assault is similar to those for most felonies, which usually includes having to serve a jail sentence and paying heavy fines. The other specific consequences are going to be provided in the relevant statute of a specific state and can depend upon the facts of an individual case.

For instance, a defendant convicted of committing first-degree felony assault can receive a jail sentence ranging from anywhere from 5 years to live, plus a fine of $10,000 or more. In contrast, an individual convicted of committing a third-degree felony assault can receive a sentence of up to 10 years of imprisonment, plus a fine of up to $10,000.

These penalties and sentences can also vary and increase when other factors are present in a case, like if the defendant is a repeat offender (e.g., they're going to receive an even greater punishment), or if the assault leads to the victim’s death. An experienced felony assault lawyer can help the defendant to at least get a favorable sentence if proven guilty.

Author's Bio: 

I am Eva Braughly, a mother who uses writing to share information on various societal issues, home improvements, DIY, health, earning opportunities, lifestyle, family, motherhood– in other words, life itself.