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Assault in the Third Degree: NY Penal Law 120.00

Assault in the Third Degree, pursuant to New York Penal Law 120.00, is the likely the most common degrees or type of misdemeanor violent crime charged by prosecutors in New York City - Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx - and the surrounding suburbs in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland and Orange Counties. Regardless if you find yourself in Brooklyn Criminal Court after being issued a NYC Desk Appearance Ticket for a bar fight with a stranger, Manhattan Criminal Court awaiting arraignment on a Domestic Violence arrest, or in a Town or Justice Court in the Hudson Valley for a physical altercation with a neighbor, the penalty for this class "A" misdemeanor is the same across the board. While you might find yourself housed on Rikers Island if you are convicted in the City and a respective county jail if your case stems from an incident in a suburban town or city, know that best means to protect yourself throughout the legal proceeding is with the aid from and advocacy of an experienced criminal lawyer versed in Article 120 crimes.

Third Degree Assault: Definition and Elements

Assault in the Third Degree comes in two major "forms." The first, NY Penal Law 120.00(1), is fairly simple and straight forward. If you intend to cause physical injury and actually cause that physical injury or "substantial pain" to some other person, then you are guilty of this offense.

The second theory of this crime is codified in NY Penal Law 120.00(2). Instead of acting with intent, meaning it was your goal to cause a "physical injury," if you act recklessly and cause "substantial pain" to another person then you have violated this criminal code.

Third Degree Assault: Further Explanation and Examples

It should be clear, and your defense attorney can explain it in depth, a key element to either "type" of PL 120.00 charges is that the ultimate injury rises to a the legally defined "physical injury" and "substantial pain."

Examining this further, if you punched your intended victim and left no mark and caused no pain, then your weakness may be your defense even if it was your intent to hurt him or her in a significant manner. Without that pain, there is no completed crime. Having said that, as discussed on the main page generally addressing Article 120 misdemeanors and felonies, the District Attorney with jurisdiction over your case can still charge you with the crime of Attempted Assault in the Third Degree. New York Penal Law 110/120.00(1) is a class "B" misdemeanor. Although not punished as harshly as the completed offense, incarceration remains on the proverbial table and a conviction is no less permanent.

Hypothetical One

You are out at a bar. Some guy is giving you a hard time or insulted your friend. Whatever the reason, you decide to hit him with a haymaker and land it square on his face busting open his lip. Was your intent to strike him? Was it your intent to inflict pain? If they answer is "yes" to both then you have likely run afoul of PL 120.00(1).

Hypothetical Two

You and your spouse are yelling at one another and it gets physical. No, you did not intend to give your spouse a laceration to her arm or a proverbial "shiner" but your behavior was so reckless that your actions are no less criminal when you inflicted the injury. Complicating matters, the domestic context of your behavior will magnify the scrutiny of your arrest and collateral issues.

There are many factors and even more scenarios that may play out in these types of investigations and prosecutions. Whatever the allegation, type of injury, or section of Assault in the Third Degree that is alleged, do not shrug off your arrest. jailed or not, misdemeanor convictions are no less permanent than their felony counterparts.

Third Degree Assault: Penalties and Punishment

From rendering you unable to pursue careers, negatively impacting your immigration or legal status, and simply causing you, your family and your employer tremendous shame and ridicule, a conviction for this crime is as devastating as it is humiliating. Whether a judge sentences you up to the legally permissible maximum of one year, you receive a lesser jail sentence, you are saddled with three years of probation, you are mandated to complete community service or there is a combination of these sanctions and punishment, the penalties within the criminal court - and outside the court system - are staggering. From complying with a court issued Order of Protection to addressing your professional licenses and certifications, do not underestimate the ramifications of an arrest or conviction.

Whether a dispute between strangers or brawl between former lovers, an accusation of PL 120.00 is nothing to be trifled with. Take control of your legal predicament and secure legal counsel with the knowledge and experience to successfully shepherd your case through the justice system. When a permanent record is the unacceptable alternative, there is no substitution for the advocacy of the New York criminal lawyers, assault attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law.

Call the criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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