If you’ve been charged with assault, your next few steps are key to maintaining your freedom. Assault cases are serious, but a charge isn’t a conviction. You’ll have a chance to defend yourself and might see the charges dismissed. You need competent, experienced defense attorneys to explore your options. Even if you’re guilty, an attorney can help you get a lower penalty.
What Is an Assault Charge?
States define assault differently. Some states combine assault with battery, but the two have different meanings. There are different levels of assault, including simple and aggravated assault, which attract heavier penalties. An assault refers to intentionally causing or attempting to cause harm/injury to another person. In some cases, assault constitutes threatening behavior that gives someone else the fear of immediate harm.
If you intentionally attempt to injure or harm another person using force or violence, you may face assault charges. Intention and consent are integral factors in assault charges. Accidentally bumping into someone isn’t considered assault, but touching someone without their consent constitutes assault. If you’re facing assault charges, check how your state defines assaults as definitions vary.
What Happens After Assault Charges?
If the police arrest you for assault, you’ll go through the same jailing process as most other charges. The police will take your information and hold you in jail without bond until you appear in front of a magistrate or judge for arraignment. A bond will be set during the first court date. You should contact a lawyer immediately after getting arrested/processed. The lawyer can speed up arraignment and may save you thousands of dollars in bond payments.
Once you get bailed out, the court process will begin. Assault cases have the same court process as other charges, so you can expect pretrials, status conferences, and trial dates. Your defense attorney and the prosecutors will negotiate the possible plea bargains to avoid going to trial. If they can’t reach a plea, the case will go to trial, and a judge or jury will decide. Each charge is different, so the specifics will vary from case to case.
How to Respond to Charges of Assault
If you’re charged with assault, your next step should be to call a defense lawyer. Being charged with any case doesn’t mean you’re convicted. Your defense lawyer can help you defeat all charges and recoup the bail paid after the first arraignment. Assault charges may result in hefty penalties if found guilty, so you should lean on the side of precaution. Avoid speaking to the police concerning the event, as your words can be used against you in a trial.
Don’t disclose any details to friends or family members either. The police and prosecuting attorneys may compel them into testifying against you in court. You should only speak to the defense lawyer handling your case. If the evidence against you is irrefutable, your attorney will try to get you the best outcome. The attorney may work out a plea deal and settle without a trial. Be honest with your attorney during the process.
How Defense Attorneys Can Help
Your defense lawyer is the best person to handle assault charges. A plaintiff will hire a prosecutor to argue their case before a judge or jury. Your defense attorney will dismiss their claims to prove your innocence or assign part of the blame to your accuser. Complainants must prove the following for you to be convicted:
- Use of Force: The complainant must prove they had a legitimate and reasonable belief that you were trying to harm them. Words alone don’t typically count as assault unless manifested in physical contact. You may still face charges for uttering threats.
- No Consent: The complainant can prove the use of force through physical contact or irrefutable perception based on your actions. Your attorney may argue they consented to the assault, so the prosecutor must prove you acted without consent.
- Intention: Some cases of assault involve force and no consent, but they may be accidental. The prosecutor will need to prove you intentionally applied force or violence to harm the complainant. If the incident results from an accident, the jury may no longer consider it an assault.
Defense lawyers have three legal fronts on which they can defend you in court: consent, self-defense, and accident. If you can prove the complainant consented to be in the situation, they can’t blame you for the assault. This line of defense could lead to an innocent verdict.
Your defense attorneys can justify the assault if your action was self-defense after perceiving a reasonable threat. The third legal defense is accidental assault. You can’t be charged with assault if you accidentally harm or injure a person.
If you’re charged with assault, find reputable defense lawyers with a clean track record. Make sure they can handle your case throughout the court process.