New York Assault Crimes: NY Penal Law Article 120

New York Assault Crimes: Definitions and Examples

While the fear of being accused of a crime, a knock on the door by a NYPD detective and even being issued a NYC Desk Appearance Ticket may be overwhelming, no matter whether you are accused of a felony or misdemeanor it is extremely important that you retain a competent and qualified New York Assault lawyer when faced with any degree of this crime. Not only can your attorney carefully review your case and establish the strongest legal defense, he or she can also potentially move to dismiss the charges. All codified in New York Penal Law Article 120, these offenses are Assault in the Third Degree, Penal Law 120.00, Second Degree, Penal Law 120.05, and First Degree, Penal Law 120.10.

Third Degree Assault: Definition and Elements

As defined in NY Penal Law 120.00(1), Assault in the Third Degree, a Class "A" misdemeanor, is based on the premise you caused a "physical injury" to your targeted person and it was your intent to hurt him or her in such a manner. NY Penal Law 120.00(2) is similar in that the physical injury you are accused of inflicting involved "substantial pain," but this subsection and theory is based on charge of reckless, not intentional, behavior.

Penal Law 120.00: Example

Possibly the most common example of Third Degree Assault charge is an allegation that a person punched someone once, or some limited number of times, and that the victim then suffered "substantial pain" from that punch. These injuries often include bruising or redness and may even cause some bleeding but no long-term damage.

Second Degree Assault: Definition and Elements

New York Penal Law 120.05, Assault in the Second Degree, is legally defined as a "violent felony" and is a vastly more dangerous a crime than the lesser offense. While there are numerous subsections allowing for different theories charging this offense, the most common of these class "D" felonies are charged through the first three subsections. You should expect the District Attorney to prosecute you post-arrest for NY Penal Law 120.05(1) if the evidence establishes your intent to cause, and you in fact caused, a "serious physical injury." In addition, you can face this felony after an arrest alleging you caused a lesser physical injury through the use of a "dangerous instrument" or "deadly weapon." This crime is established through Penal Law 120.05(2).

While maybe not as commonly charged in a felony complaint or an indictment, there are other felony crimes available to the District Attorney for presentation to a Grand Jury. These include NY Penal Law 120.05(3) where certain people such as nurses, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and other classes of workers are intentionally and physically injured while performing heir essential services with the goal of preventing them from doing so. NY Penal Law 120.05(4), involves a reckless act where you use a dangerous instrument to cause the lesser physical injury to that person. NY Penal Law 120.05(8) and NY Penal Law 120.05(9) respectively, require that you intentionally try to cause a physical injury but recklessly caused a serious one or that being older than eighteen you intentionally caused a physical injury to a person ten years of age or less.

There are many more subsections and theories of Assault in the Second Degree that you must examine with your own criminal lawyer. The arrest for one does not preclude being charged in a criminal court with other crimes.

Penal Law 120.05: Example

Circumstances elevating a charge to Assault in the Second Degree under Penal Law 120.05 is where the injuries are more severe than mere "substantial pain" and constitute "serious physical injury." Such an injury, for example, exposes a person to death, a lifelong disability or even disfigurement. Further where a weapon was used in the commission of the crime, which can include anything from a broken bottle to a shoe, the misdemeanor offense becomes a felony crime as long as the lesser "substantial pain" elements are met.

First Degree Assault: Definition and Elements

Assault in the First Degree, New York Penal Law 120.10, is without exception, one of the most devastating charges regardless of whether you face a felony arrest, indictment or trial. NY Penal Law 120.10 does share some common ground with the lesser felony offenses, but packs a far greater punch and a potential for incarceration well beyond just about any offense found in the criminal code. Just like its lesser brethren, NY Penal Law 120.10 has numerous viable causes of action and subsections. The most common offense involves the intentional infliction of serious physical injuries that cause long term protracted consequences to health and even disfigurement.

Penal Law 120.10: Example

One possible theory, and an extremely common violation codified in NY Penal Law 120.10(1), is where you intentionally cause a serious physical injury to another person and you use a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to do so. Moreover, prosecutors in NYC and the Hudson Valley can charge you with this First Degree offense if you intend to and in fact seriously disfigure a person or permanently disable them as set forth in Penal Law 120.10(2).

New York Assault Crimes: Related Offenses

Related offenses include:

  1. Reckless Assault of a Child: Penal Law 120.01
  2. Vehicular Assault: Penal Law120.03 and 120.04
  3. Aggravated Vehicular Assault: Penal Law 120.04-A
  4. Gang Assault: Penal Law 120.06 and 120.07
  5. Assault on a Peace Officer, Police Officer, Firefighter, or Emergency Medical Services Professional: Penal Law 120.09 NY Penal Law 120.09
  6. Aggravated Assault on a Police Office: Penal Law 120.11
  7. Aggravated Assault on a Person Less than Eleven Years Old: Penal Law 120.12
New York Assault Crimes: Potential Defenses

A defense that may work for one case may not work for another. Each defense is case specific and should be vetted with your criminal defense lawyer. The following are some potential areas of law and legal defenses to these and other crimes found in the 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

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 are worthy of review with your legal counsel.

New York Assault Crimes: Penalties and Punishment

The penalties for Assault charges, if convicted, depend on the degree of the charge and the corresponding classification of that charge. As an "A misdemeanor, PL 120.00 is punishable by up to one year in the local jail, such as Rikers Island, three years probation, or lesser penalties including a conditional discharge, fines, community service, and/or surcharges. A class "D" violent felony, PL120.05 is punishable by incarceration in state prison - a presumptive mandatory two years up to seven years. A class "B" violent felony with a sentence up to 25 years in prison and a minimum of five years in prison, PL 120.10 is by far the most serious of these three crimes.

New York Assault Crimes: Your Defense Team of Former Prosecutors

An experienced New York Assault attorney can help explain the charges against you, as well as work to have your case dismissed or your charges dropped. The steps you take, how you secure evidence, and implementation of the right strategy can, and routinely does, make the difference between the worst case scenario becoming reality and a more palatable alternative or even exoneration.

When faced with a potential indictment or trial, accused of a violent crime, or exposed to incarceration in either a county jail or state prison, there is no substitution for knowledge, experienced and advocacy. In your time of need, contact the criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC to implement your best defense and protect your name, integrity, liberty and future.

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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