In the face of assault accusations, you will need an experienced and effective attorney on your side to fight for your defense. Durak Law Firm has years of professional experience defending clients throughout Franklin, Tennessee, and Attorney Michal Durakiewicz has handled over 500 criminal cases throughout his career. He aims to treat all his clients with respect as he discusses their situation with them and will work diligently to plan and prepare their defense.
Simple And Aggravated Assault
Tennessee assault law generally covers two types of assault offenses – simple assault and aggravated assault. Simple assault is a misdemeanor and occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes:
- bodily injury to another;
- another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury; or
- physical contact with another and a reasonable person would regard the contact as extremely offensive or provocative.
Simple assault is classified as a misdemeanor primarily because it usually only involves minor bodily injuries like a cut, scrape, or bruise. When the injury is as serious as a broken bone, disfigurement, loss of a limb, or one requiring surgery or hospitalization, it is considered a “serious bodily physical injury,” which is a felony of aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault can be either intentional or reckless, where a reckless act refers to one that is committed not necessarily with intent to harm another person. For instance, pushing someone out of the way so the defendant can get through could be reckless aggravated assault if that person falls and suffers serious injury.
More specifically, Tennessee law defines intentional aggravated assault as intentionally or knowingly committing assault (as defined above) that leads to:
- serious bodily injury to another;
- death of another;
- use or display of a deadly weapon; or
- involved strangulation or attempted strangulation.
Reckless aggravated assault occurs when an individual recklessly commits an act of assault that leads to:
- serious bodily injury to another;
- death of another; or
- use or display of a deadly weapon.
Other specific acts that could also be charged as aggravated assault could be if:
- a parent or guardian of a child or a guardian of an adult and fails or refuses to protect the child or adult from an aggravated assault or aggravated child abuse;
- a person intentionally or knowingly commits or attempts to commit an assault while under an order, diversion, or probation agreement that prohibits such actions; or
- a person intentionally causes physical injury to a public employee or transit system worker (private or public) while the person is performing their duties.
Misdemeanor And Felony Penalties And Sentencing Options
As mentioned earlier, simple assault is charged as a misdemeanor and will warrant penalties at the misdemeanor level. General assault offenses are usually Class A or, if intentional, Class B misdemeanors, both punishable by up to 1 year in prison and/or up to $2,500 in fines. If the assault is committed against a law enforcement officer, health care provider, or employee or contractor of a utility performing their duties, the maximum fine rises to $15,000.
Aggravated assault is a more serious offense and warrants felony charges. Intentional aggravated assault is a Class C felony punishable by 3-15 years in prison, and reckless aggravated assault is a Class D felony punishable by 2-12 years in prison.
There are a couple sentencing alternatives a court may impose on the defendant in certain situations. For one, after a defendant is convicted or pleads guilty to their assault charge, and if they have no prior felony convictions or misdemeanor convictions for which they faced jail time, the court may grant judicial diversion (also called a deferred sentence). In such a case, the court postpones sentencing on the condition that the defendant successfully complies with probation and other requirements, such as:
- not incurring new arrests during the conditional period;
- completing psychological treatment; or
- doing volunteer work in the community.
If the defendant satisfies all the court’s requirements, the court may discharge the defendant and dismiss their case. However, if the defendant fails to meet the court’s requirements, the court will impose a sentence and enter the defendant into a conviction. Note that even if the defendant is discharged, their arrest, diversion, and dismissal will remain on their criminal record.
Alternatively, the court may impose a jail sentence but allow the defendant to serve all or a portion of that time on probation rather than in jail. In such a case, the defendant must successfully complete probation and any other conditions the court imposes. If they fail to do so, they will be required to complete their sentence in jail. Be aware that anyone on such supervised probation must meet with a probation officer and comply with requirements such as receiving treatment, maintaining employment, obeying curfews, doing drug tests, paying probation costs, and avoiding further criminal activity.
Contact Durak Law Firm To Get Started On Your Defense
If you have been charged with a form of assault in Tennessee, do not hesitate to seek legal help immediately. It is critical that you work with an experienced assault lawyer to build a strong defense against harsh or unfair charges. Durak Law Firm can examine the facts of your arrest and charge and determine your best strategy for combatting your penalties, such as arguing for alternate sentencing.
To learn more about how Durak Law Firm can help you fight your assault accusations, schedule a free consultation online or at (615) 812-2829.