Assault charge severity is charged by amount of harm inflicted, and the perceived intent to harm the victim.
First Degree Assault is the most serious assault charge and is a class 3 felony, and also labeled an Extraordinary Risk Crime. This means that a conviction for first degree assault can carry a mandatory prison sentence to at minimum the mean average of the potential sentence for the crime. As a class 3 felony and extraordinary risk crime, the sentencing range for First Degree Assault would be 4-16 years in state prison.
This means that unless the defendant’s counsel can prove that the crime was committed in the “Heat of Passion” (the defendant was provoked by the victim) which would remove the mandatory sentencing guidelines that the judge must follow, the judge must impose a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison to the defendant. If the defendant’s counsel can show that “Heat of Passion” circumstances existed during the assault, the judge can then waive the state mandatory prison guidelines at sentencing.
Prosecutors look at the following conditions when charging a person with First Degree Assault:
- Did the defendant commit assault with “extreme indifference to the value of human life,” causing serious bodily injury and a grave risk of death to the victim?
- Was it the intent of the defendant to cause serious injury? And did serious injury occur?
- Was it the intent of the defendant to disable or seriously disfigure the victim?
- Did the defendant threatened or cause serious injury with a deadly weapon to a judge, police officer, firefighter, or correctional facility prison staff?
Sentencing Guidelines For First Degree Assault Third Degree Felony (F3):
Mandatory 10 Years to a Maximum of 16 Years In Prison
Assault in the Second Degree
Second Degree Assault has multiple definitions. Prosecutors will seed to persuade a jury to convict the defendant if they feel that the following circumstances exits in the case:
- Did the defendant purposely intend to hurt the victim in any way, and in doing so caused bodily injury.
- Did the defendant purposely use violent force toward government officials.
- Did the defendant purposely cause bodily injury to another person by using a deadly weapon.
- Did the defendant cause any injury to anyone while purposely hindering the work of police or firefighters.
- Did the defendant purposely and recklessly cause serious bodily injury to another person by using a deadly weapon.
- Did the defendant purposely drug another person without their knowledge or consent.
Certain Second Degree Assault charges are defined as “Crimes of Violence”. These charges require that the presiding judge apply the mandatory prison sentences following a conviction. For example, the presiding judge is required to sentence the defendant to a minimum of 5 years in prison for Second Degree Assault conviction.
Sentencing Guidelines For First Degree Assault Fourth Degree Felony (F4):
Mandatory 5 Years to a Maximum of 8 Years In Prison
Assault in the Third Degree
Third Degree Assault is defined as “recklessly or knowingly causing bodily injury to another person.” This criminal charge requires that an actual injury in order for the charge to be supported, but note that pain also constitutes injury, even if there is no physical injury to the person assaulted.
Sentencing Guidelines For Third Degree Assault First Degree Misdemeanor (M1)
Possible 2 Year Sentence In County Jail
Assault Charge Notes
All assault charges will be judged in large part on the mitigating and aggravating aspects of the incident. If a defendants actions are deemed justified by a victim’s provocations or considered a “Crime of Passion” the judge is more likely to waive mandatory sentencing guidelines. Conversely, actions by the defendant that appear exceptionally heinous are much more likely to face mandatory sentencing guidelines.
The claim of Self defense is a common defense used by counsel to counter an assault charge. The defendant is allowed to use only the amount of force necessary to defend himself. A defendant cannot use excessive force unless it can be proven that the victim would have tried to kill the defendant if deadly force by the defendant was not used.