Smart, Strategic Defense Against Violent Crime Charges In New York
Assault is among the most common crimes charged in New York, in part, because the threshold for what constitutes assault is surprisingly low. Nonetheless, a conviction related to an assault charge can carry significant penalties as well as the stigma of being labeled as a violent person.
Whether you’re facing misdemeanor or felony assault charges, it is important to tell your side of the story with the help of an experienced defense attorney. In Nassau and Suffolk counties or in New York City, the firm to contact is Powers Law, P.C. Our attorneys bring 50 years of legal experience to each case, and we have a strong track record of success, both in and out of the courtroom.
Understanding Terminology: Assault And Battery
Some states use the terms assault and battery interchangeably, while others treat them as separate crimes. New York law references both terms, but only assault is charged criminally. Someone can face a civil lawsuit for committing battery, but it is not a criminal matter.
The most basic definition of assault is making physical contact with another person in a manner that results in physical harm or significant pain. The harm also must be intentional or the result of reckless conduct or negligence. This differentiates assault from an unfortunate accident.
Assault Can Be Charged As A Misdemeanor Or A Felony
There are three different levels – or degrees – of assault in New York. They include:
Third-degree assault: This is the least serious assault charge, and it involves physical contact (intentional or reckless) that results in mild to moderate injury and/or significant pain. Sometimes referred to as “simple assault,” assault in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor. A first-time conviction can result in up to a year in jail, a term of probation or lesser penalties.
Second-degree assault: You face this charge if you are accused of intentionally causing serious physical injury to another person, or if you caused milder physical injury while using a deadly weapon or other dangerous instrument. Assault in the second degree is a Class D felony, and conviction can result in between two and seven years in state prison or probation of five years.
First-degree assault: This is the harshest assault charge. It involves the intentional infliction of serious injuries to another person. The injuries may result in disfigurement, disability or long-term health issues. It is a Class B felony that can be punished by between five and 25 years in prison.
While degree of harm is the largest determining factor in both charging and sentencing, other details play a role as well. Some of them include whether the victim was a child, whether the victim was a certain type of public servant (police, firefighter, EMS), whether a vehicle was used and whether the assault was committed as part of a gang, to name a few.
Don’t Plead Guilty – You May Have Defense Options
Prosecutors will generally charge the highest offense they believe they can support, even if such charges are not appropriate. They want you to believe that they hold all the cards and that you have no choice but to plead guilty.
However, you do have a choice, and you should speak to an attorney at our firm before you decide on any course of action. We’ll help you understand your rights and choose the defense strategy that best meets your needs and goals.