You got into a verbal altercation with someone, and things escalated. Now, you’re facing assault charges – and your mind has naturally turned to what happens if you’re convicted.
That depends a lot on the exact charges you face, including whether you’re charged with simple or aggravated assault.
You need to understand the charges to know what you face
It often surprises people to learn that they can be charged with assault without actually touching someone – but you can be. If you merely threatened someone with harm, that’s a Class C misdemeanor. You can also be charged with a Class C misdemeanor for any kind of “provocative or offensive” contact – like poking somebody in the chest or tweaking their nose as a prelude to an actual fight. If you stopped there, the maximum penalty is a $500 fine.
Your charges can be bumped up to a Class B misdemeanor, however, if you lost your temper at a sporting event and you’re charged with assault against a player, a coach or an umpire. A conviction for that carries a maximum fine of $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail.
What if things went further? If your opponent was injured in the melee, you’ll probably be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which can mean up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine – unless the victim has special status – and that includes domestic partners, family members, first responders, government employees and correction officers.
If a victim has special status, that bumps your charges up to the felony level. At the lowest charge (a third degree felony) that means up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. At the highest charge (a second degree felony) that can lead to up to 20 years in prison.
If the other party to your altercation suffered serious injuries (the kind that include broken bones or permanent damage) or you used a weapon of any sort, you may be facing charges of aggravated assault. As a first degree felony, those charges carry the worst penalties. If you’re convicted, you could serve five years to life in prison.
As you can see, the potential penalties for an assault charge can vary greatly on the situation. Whatever the circumstances, experienced legal guidance can help you explore your defense options.