New York Assault Lawyer


Assault charges are relatively common in New York because assault charges can result from any intentional or reckless touching of another person.

However, the laws for assault charges are complex and are often complicated because events involving assault charges are hardly ever black and white, and the legal thresholds of personal injury and serious personal injury are often not that clear.

People are routinely charged with assault when they were merely defending themselves, or when they had no intent to injure another person. If you have been charged with assault in New York, it is extremely important that you retain a competent and qualified New York assault lawyer.

An experienced New York assault lawyer will carefully review your case and help establish a legal defense or move to dismiss the charges against you.

New York Assault Charges

The New York Penal Code distinguishes between three different levels of assault: assault in the third degree, assault in the second degree, and assault in the first degree. Each of these levels of assault have their own unique elements, as well as their own penalties.

Assault in the Third Degree

As defined in N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.00, assault in the third-degree charges result when a person intends to cause physical harm to another person, and when they actually cause an injury to another person.

In addition, a person can be charged with assault in the third degree for recklessly causing physical injury to another person, or when they cause physical injury to another person with a deadly weapon and when their actions are criminally negligent.

Assault in the Second Degree

N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.05 – Assault in the second degree is a more serious offense and can be charged when a person intends to cause serious physical injury to another person and they actually injure them.

In addition, a person can be charged with assault in the second degree if they prevent certain people such as nurses, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and other classes of workers from performing essential services.

A person may also be charged with second-degree assault if the accuser is under the age of 11 and if the accused is over the age of 18, as well as if a person is over the age of 65 and the accused is 10 years younger than the accuser.

Assault in the First Degree

Assault in the first degree is the most serious assault charge and is defined in N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.10. A person can be charged with assault in the first degree if they cause serious physical injury to another person by using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.

Moreover, a person may be charged with first-degree assault if they intend to seriously disfigure a person, or they permanently disable them.

In addition to charging a person with assault if they injure another, a person can be charged with assault if they injure a third party through their actions. Which means that when a person is charged with assault there may be more than one person involved, which can make a case more complicated.

Types of Assault Charges

In addition to the three main classifications, there are many other types of assault charges a person can be charged with in New York including:

  • Reckless assault of a child
  • Vehicular assault
  • Aggravated vehicular assault
  • Assault on a peace officer, police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services professional
  • Assault on a judge
  • Aggravated assault upon a police officer or peace officer

An experienced New York assault attorney can help mitigate charges that the accused may face.

Enhancing and Decreasing the Degree & Severity of Assault

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 prosecutor’s 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 assault attorney in the event you are arrested for Assault.

Consulting a New York Assault Attorney

If you are charged and convicted of assault in any degree, you may be facing fines, prison sentences, probation, and many other serious penalties. An experienced and dedicated New York assault lawyer can help explain the charges against you, as well as work to have your case dismissed or your charges dropped.

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

New York Criminal Lawyer Blog - Assault
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