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Assault & Aggravated Assault

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A person commits the criminal offense of assault when he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person, threatens the other person with bodily injury, or causes physical contact with the other person, which he or she knows is offensive to the other person. Bodily injury is defined as physical pain, illness, or an impairment of a physical condition. The fact that the other person is the person’s spouse is not relevant. A spouse can be charged with an assault of his or her spouse.

When a person threatens another person with bodily injury, the person does not have to intend to do harm to the other person. The person only has to cause the other person to have a reasonable fear of bodily injury. The fear of bodily injury must be imminent. It cannot be remote. The threats may be communicated by conduct as well as by words.

Where an indictment or an information charges a defendant with assault, the indictment or the information must allege the elements of the offense and should allege the manner in which the assault was committed. Although the manner in which the assault was committed is not an essential allegation, the indictment or the information could be dismissed for lack of certainty or definiteness if the allegation is not made.

An assault is normally classified as a misdemeanor. However, if the assault is committed against a member of a person’s family or household or if the person has previously been convicted of assault against his or her family or household, the assault may be classified as a felony. An assault may also be a felony if it is committed against a public official while the official is exercising his or her duties.

A person commits the criminal offense of aggravated assault when he or she commits an assault, which causes serious bodily injury to another person, or if he or she uses a deadly weapon during the assault. These factors raise the classification of the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony. If the person commits an aggravated assault on a public servant, the offense is usually a more serious felony. A public servant may be a government officer, a juror or a grand juror, an arbitrator or a referee, an attorney or a notary public, or a political candidate.

An indictment or an information for aggravated assault does not need to specify the manner of the underlying assault or the aggravated assault and does not need to describe the deadly weapon.

In order to be convicted of aggravated assault, the prosecution may show that a defendant inflicted serious bodily injury on the other person. Serious bodily injury is an injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or permanent loss or impairment of an organ or a body member. Only the nature of the injury is relevant. The fact that the injury was improved as a result of medical treatment is not relevant.

In order to be convicted of aggravated assault, the prosecution may show that a defendant used a deadly weapon during an underlying assault. A firearm is a deadly weapon. Any other object that is designed or made for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury is a deadly weapon. A knife is a deadly weapon if it is capable of inflicting death or causing serious bodily injury. The defendant need not wound the other person with the weapon in order for it to be considered a deadly weapon. It is sufficient for the prosecution to show that the defendant used the deadly weapon in such a manner as to make it capable of inflicting death or causing serious bodily injury.

Consent is a defense to assault or to aggravated assault. In order for the defense to be successful, a defendant must prove that a victim consented to the assault or that the defendant reasonably believed that the victim consented to the assault. This defense is often used for injuries involving occupational risks, medical treatment, and scientific experiments.

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