Understanding the Different Degrees of Assault

girl beaten up

One of the ways a person may need the assistance of a Long Island criminal lawyer is when they get involved in an assault case. While the best source of information about such legal matters is a legal professional, it will be in your best interest to get basic information about it. By the end of this article, you’ll have a basic understanding of the different degrees of assault, as defined by U.S. laws.

First Things First: What Is Assault?

Assault is generally defined as any intentional act toward a person. The act can be considered as an assault if the victim ends up fearing that they will be later harmed. Assault itself does not necessarily have to involve physical violence. If a person verbally threatens or abuses another person, they can be found guilty of assault even if they did not lay a hand on the other person or victim.

Specific laws regarding assault vary from one state to another, but assault and its degrees are generally similar in definition regardless of whether you are in the country. In some states, there are three degrees of assault, while some have four. New York, specifically, recognizes three degrees of assault.

Understanding the Three Degrees of Assault

Assault is categorized in terms of degrees. These degrees have different definitions. To determine as to what degree an assault incident falls under, the defendant’s actions, intent, and state of mind are carefully looked at. Naturally, punishments are more severe for more serious charges.

First-Degree Assault

A person may be found guilty of first-degree assault when he or she intently causes harm to another person or persons. If the suspect causes injury to a person and another one using a deadly instrument or weapon, it can also be considered first-degree assault.

Furthermore, it can also be considered first-degree assault if the defendant exhibited an intention to disfigure, disable, or mutilate a person and another. Additionally, if one shows indifference to human life as they recklessly engage in activities that endanger and harm another person, it can also be penned as first-degree assault.

Second-Degree Assault

A person may be found guilty of second-degree assault when he or she knowingly causes harm to another person or persons. If the person causes injury to the victims using deadly weapons and instruments, without direct intent, but with clear knowledge of the act, it can also be considered as second-degree assault.

Furthermore, if the defendant deliberately prevented an officer or person of authority, such as a police officer, firefighter, or medical officer, from performing their duties, it may also be tagged as second-degree assault.

If evidence clearly shows that the defendant is guilty of assault, they may use defenses to show that they did not intend to do the act despite having done it. Common defenses include intoxication, insanity, self-defense, and entrapment.

Third-Degree Assault

third degree assault

A person may be found guilty of third-degree assault when he or she recklessly causes harm or encourages fear toward another person or persons. If the person causes harm toward another due to negligence of laws and rules, it can also be considered as third-degree assault.

In general, this is the least serious or harmful form of assault in most states because the person did not intend to perform the act. It’s also possible that the person is not aware of the result of his actions.

Need Legal Assistance? Don’t Hesitate and Delay

If you or someone you know has been involved in an incident that you believe may be considered as an assault, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance. While general information is readily available, there are a lot of other aspects to be probed and considered.

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