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Defending Yourself Against Assault & Battery Charges

New York used to have a crime called battery, back when judges – not legislatures – created laws. But times have changed and now battery only exists in tort law for civil suits in this state. The crime of assault is codified in Article 120 of the New York Penal Code, with many different classifications and specific definitions.

No matter the degree of assault, consequences can affect every aspect of your life. You will want an experienced attorney to represent you throughout the judicial process.

Assault Definitions

Assault generally means one person caused physical injury to another, but the law allows for varying degrees and special protections for certain victims.

Below is an outline of the basic types of assault and potential punishments:

  • Assault in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by no more than one year in jail.
  • Assault in the second degree is a class D violent felony, punishable by up to 7 years.
  • Assault in the first degree is a class B felony, punishable by a mandatory minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 25 years.

Other assault crimes – such as vehicular assaults, assaults upon a child, and assaults upon a judge or first responder – have their own classification and sentencing rules.

Assault Defined

Misdemeanor Assault charges are elevated to a felony when someone is accused of one of the following (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Has intent to cause serious physical injury to a person they know or reasonably should know is a police officer or peace officer performing their duties
  • Causes the injury with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
  • Commits third-degree assault upon someone younger than 11 years old and has been previously convicted of the same offense within the last 3 years

Other Considerations

There are factors that determine how an alleged crime is categorized and punished:

  • Severity of the injuries
  • Whether the act was intentional
  • Presence of a weapon
  • Whether others assisted in the assault
  • Target of the assault (children, police officers, judges, and EMTs have special protections)

Assault vs. Harassment

The one common element to all assault crimes is that they each require physical injury, defined as “impairment of physical condition or substantial pain.” If no injury occurs or does not meet the legislative definition, the alleged offender could be charged with harassment in the second degree. Interesting to note is harassment in the second degree is technically not a crime. It is a violation, punishable by no more than 15 days. Aggravated harassment (intentionally threatening another) is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison.

Ramifications of an Assault Conviction

The specific assault charge and its circumstances will determine what, if any, jail time is imposed. Most people zero in on the fact that they could be put behind bars. That is understandable. Yet there are consequences that can last longer than the prison sentence.

These consequences of a felony conviction can affect multiple areas of your life:

  • You can no longer vote (while in prison or on parole).
  • You cannot possess a firearm.
  • You cannot sit on a jury.
  • You could be barred from federally funded housing.
  • You could be denied the ability to obtain certain operator licenses.
  • You cannot enlist in any branch of the military.
  • You could lose parental rights.
  • You may be disqualified from adoption.

Background checks are routinely performed by lenders, landlords, and employers. Your felony conviction will be discovered. You might have difficulty securing a job or even buying a car. Misdemeanors also come to light during a background check. That less serious offense can still harm your ability to rent an apartment or be accepted into college.

Defend Yourself and Your Future

At Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC, our attorneys have a particularly helpful quality: We were once New York prosecutors. Having a deep understanding of the prosecutorial process provides us with insight on how to approach and defend any criminal case.

When we are your attorneys, we will dissect your case and all its details. We will work aggressively to represent you and highlight mitigating factors. You will understand every step in the process.

But time is important. The sooner you have experience at your side, the more we can potentially help you.

Call us at (516) 218-5131 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation about your case.