One of the most common, yet perhaps most misunderstood crimes in the Georgia criminal code is that of assault. Contrary to what many people believe, you do not need to actually hit another person to be accused of assault. In truth, coming into contact with another person is a separate crime, that of battery.
Forsyth County assault lawyers represent clients who have been accused of either simple or aggravated assault, developing a thorough and multi-layered defense. Contact a skilled defense attorney who can protect your rights as soon as possible.
Assault Laws in Georgia
Georgia Code defines simple assault as when a person commits an act which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a violent injury. Alternatively, a person may be accused of assault if they attempt to commit a violent injury to the person of another. A keyword in this definition is “attempt.” For example, two people are arguing outside a grocery store and Person A says to Person B, “I’m going to make you wish you were never born,” while holding up a fist.
Under the first definition, Person A may be charged with simple assault since holding up a fist with an accompanying verbal threat may reasonably make Person B fear that he is going to be hit.
A second scenario is that the argument continues until Person A swings at Person B but misses. Person A has attempted to commit a violent injury on Person B. According to the second definition of simple assault, he may be found guilty. He could also be charged with attempted battery. Regardless of the scenario, simple assault is considered a Person misdemeanor crime. GA Code prescribes a maximum fine of $1,000.00, a jail term of no longer than one year, or both, for a misdemeanor conviction.
Aggravated Assault Offenses
Aggravated assault in Georgia retains the definition of “assault” as given in the simple assault statute. What makes the crime “aggravated,” is who the assault was committed against or if the accused used a weapon. Some examples of aggravating factors include:
- Assault with the intent to rob
- Assault using a deadly weapon
- Assault against a person using a firearm while driving a car
In order for aggravated assault to apply, the prerequisite definition of assault must first be met. Returning to the example of an argument outside the grocery store, Person A again states that Person B will “wish that he was never born.” Instead of having a clenched fist, however, Person A is holding a hunting knife.
A hunting knife is certainly a deadly weapon and Person B would reasonably be in fear of immediate physical harm. Therefore, the elements for aggravated assault are met. Alternatively, if Person A swings that knife at Person B but misses, aggravated assault would still apply, regardless of whether Person B was in fear of being cut. The punishments for aggravated assault are far more serious than those for simple assault.
Under the best of circumstances, a conviction for aggravated assault will require a minimum of one year in jail. Depending upon the facts of the case, such as the identity of the victim or the location of the assault, the maximum term may be increased to as many as 50 years. In addition, grabbing a person by the throat could result in felony aggravated assault charges.
How a Forsyth County Assault Attorney Can Help
If a person has been charged with either simple or aggravated assault, Forsyth County assault lawyers are here to help. They help people to better understand the nuances of the charges being brought against them and to form a well-reasoned defense.
By arguing that a client lacked the intent required to commit assault, attorneys can seriously weaken a prosecutor’s case. A conviction under even the simple assault statute can result in significant jail time and a permanent mark on a person’s criminal record. Contact today to see how they can work to minimize those chances.