When Does Assault Become A Felony? 


Assault is a criminal offense that involves threats of bodily harm. On the other hand, battery is usually intentional and involves unwanted physical contact regardless if the intent is not to actually cause physical harm. A battery and assault charge refers to threats of bodily harm that is followed through with actual physical contact. 

The penalties for assault and/or battery differ according to the laws of the state where the offense was committed and the circumstances of each case. The severity of the offense and the offender’s criminal record will determine the severity of the punishment that ranges from fines to jailtime. However, there are states that treat assault and battery as two separate crimes. 

Punishment for assault

State and federal governments have laws that consider assault as a crime. In order to determine whether assault is a misdemeanour or felony, the seriousness of the threat and the surrounding circumstances are seriously considered. According to federal laws, when the assault charge is considered as misdemeanour, punishment is one-year imprisonment. If it is considered as a felony, punishment is 10 years imprisonment. 

Under state laws, misdemeanour is punished by a jail term of less than 1 year while a felony is subject to imprisonment of more than 1 year. However, the penalties for assault are also determined by the circumstances of the crime. If no weapon was involved and the victim did not suffer from serious injuries, the assault charge can be treated as a misdemeanour with fines and jailtime that is less than 30 days. Penalties can increase quickly if there is a weapon involved and the victim incurred serious injuries. 

Punishment for battery

Similar to assault, battery can also be considered as misdemeanour or felony. How battery is classified will depend on whether a weapon is involved, the seriousness of the injury and the person who was injured. If the victim is a police officer, fireman or member of the legislature, executive or judicial branch of the government, more serious punishments are provided by both federal and state laws. 

Penalties for a battery charge ranges from less than 30 days jailtime to substantial prison time and life in prison depending on whether it is a misdemeanour or felony. The crime of assault and/or battery can become aggravated assault and/or battery if a deadly was used, if the victim’s status is protected class, the seriousness of the injury and the offender’s intent. The type of weapon used can also make a big difference in the punishment. Harsher punishments are given when the perpetuator uses caustic chemical, a deadly weapon, machine gun or semi-automatic firearm. If assault and/or battery is committed on a police officer and other public servants, harsher penalties can be expected. 

If you are facing assault charges, a qualified criminal defence lawyer can help you prepare a plan to minimize the consequences of your case. Jailtime is one of the consequences of assault and/or battery. It is important to listen to expert advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer who understands the laws of the state on assault and/or battery. 

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