One of New York's most serious crimes, Assault (sometimes called Assault and Battery outside New York), ranges from an "A" misdemeanor to a "B" felony. In plain language, this means that a person convicted of Assault in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, White Plains or anywhere else in the New York state can face up to one year in jail for giving someone an injury as "insignificant" as a black eye. Even worse, a New York criminal lawyer can explain how you could face to up to 25 years in prison for causing a more serious physical injury.
Like most crimes, Assault in New York comes in varying degrees that relate directly to the severity of the injury and means by which the Assault takes place. Other factors regarding how this crime is prosecuted include whether the Assault is domestic in nature (i.e, a child, spouse, etc.) and if it is based on or motivated by hate (also known as "Hate Crimes"). Generally, however, Assault falls under a few major categories each with their unique definitions and respective case law. While the following may assist the accused in understanding theses charges, there is no substitute for consulting with an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer.
- Assault in the Third Degree: New York Penal Law Section 120.00
- Assault in the Second Degree: New York Penal Law Section 120.05
- Assault in the First Degree: New York Penal Law Section 120.10
- Assault on a Police Officer: New York Penal Law Section 120.08
- Vehicular Assault: New York Penal Law Section
- Gang Assault: New York Penal Law Section
Enhancing and Decreasing the Degree & Severity of Assault
Briefly mentioned above, when an Assault is committed based in "hate" such as a crime perpetrated against another because of their race, sexual orientation, religion, etc., the District Attorney may decide to prosecute the crime as a "Hate Crime." In doing so, prosecutors can bump up the level of offense one degree. Therefore, if the crime was an Assault in the Second Degree, a "D" felony punishable by up to seven years in prison, prosecuting that crime as a "Hate Crime" will raise the offense to a "C" felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. Obviously, this is a powerful tool in the prosecutors arsenal.
While a "Hate Crime" designation enhances the Assault, if the accused fails to complete the crime or only attempts the offense, then it is considered an attempted crime. It is as simple as it sounds. Attempted Assaults decrease the degree of the Assault by one level. In the scenario above, the person accused of Attempted Assault in the Second Degree would not face a "D" felony, but an "E" felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
Potential Defenses to the Crime of Assault
A defense that may work for one Assault case may not work for another. Each defense is case specific and should be vetted with your New York criminal defense lawyer. The following are some potential areas of law and legal defenses to Assault and other crimes found in the New York Penal Law:
- Legal & Factual - Degree of Injury Not Sufficient
- Legal & Factual - Self Defense
- Legal & Factual - Improper Identification (Lineup, Show up, etc.)
- Legal & Factual - Search & Seizure Issues
- Legal & Factual - Coerced or Improper Statement / Admission
Again, the above list consists of general concepts and is only a fraction of potential defenses. Your defense may or may not fall within these general concepts. Regardless, each of these may be something to address with your New York criminal defense attorney in the event you are arrested for Assault.
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