Have you ever faced aggravated assault charges? If you have, I’m sure you had tons of questions that needed to be answered. At Joseph Williams Law Firm, our attorney has represented countless clients that have been charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Aggravated assault is a violent crime with severe penalties. The sooner you hire an aggravated assault attorney, the better off you will be. Please contact us at 912-259-6548 to speak with a criminal defense attorney today.
Definition of Aggravated Assault in Georgia
Georgia criminal law defines aggravated assault as:
1. Assaults with intent to murder, rape, or rob;
- Intent to murder requires intent to kill. This is generally shown by the type of weapon used, how it was used, the injuries it caused, the brutality of the injury and the duration of the assault.
- The act of intentionally firing a gun at another, absent justification, is enough by itself to support a conviction of aggravated assault.
- The intent to rape requires a substantial step toward committing a battery or a non-consented to touching, not a rape, because otherwise it would be an attempted rape.
- The intent to rob requires reasonable apprehension of receiving bodily injury and intent to rob.
2. Assaults with the use of a deadly weapon or any object, device or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury;
- Hands & Feet can be considered deadly weapons.
- A weapon may become a deadly weapon depending on how it is used, the wounds it inflicted, the degree of force that was used, and the likelihood of serious injury.
- A weapon is deadly under this code section if the victim reasonably believed it was deadly even though it wasn’t. An example would be brandishing a fake gun.
- There must be some evidence that the victim knew a deadly weapon was involved.
3. Assaults with any object, device or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in strangulation;
- This is a common charge in domestic violence situations.
- Marks on the victim’s neck and testimony by the victim are both common forms of evidence we see when defending clients against charges of strangulation.
4. Assaults that include drive-bys without legal justification.
- A drive by occurs when an individual fires a weapon from within a motor vehicle then flees the scene.
- There are enhanced penalties for this type of assault when the drive-by occurs within a school safety zone. The mandatory minimum jumps up to 5 years instead of 1 year.
What does the Prosecutor have to prove for Aggravated Assault?
The offense of aggravated assault under Georgia law has two essential elements that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt before a suspect can be found guilty:
- That a simple assault under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-20 was committed on the alleged victim, AND
- One of the four types under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-21 occurred. For instance, there was an intent to rob, rape, or murder, a strangulation occurred, a drive by shooting occurred, or a deadly weapon was used during the assault.
What makes Simple Assault different than Aggravated Assault?
We’ve gone over the four types of aggravated assault, but before you can be convicted of aggravated assault, the prosecutor must prove that you are also guilty of simple assault. This begs the question, well what is the difference?
Under Georgia law simple assault can occur in two ways:
1. An attempt to commit a violent injury to the person of another (attempted battery)
This is frequently referred to as the attempted battery type. This type of assault requires some sort of intent to injure the victim. A threat alone is not sufficient to constitute an attempted battery. There must some kind of non-consented to touching. This type of assault can also occur without the victim ever knowing that it occurred.
Ex./ A guy bumps into your friend at the bar and does not say excuse me. As he is walking away, your friend throws a haymaker, but misses. The guy never knew it happened, but your friend could be charged and convicted of simple assault (attempted battery).
2. Commission of an act which places another in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury.
This is frequently referred to as the apprehension type of simple assault. This type of assault requires some sort of intent to cause the victim to be reasonably apprehensive. It does not require any type of physical contact or physical harm. This type of simple assault can occur even if the victim is not afraid.
Ex./ A guy bumps into your friend at the bar and does not say excuse me. Your friend confronts the guy face to face. Your friend tries to make the guy flinch by acting like he’s going to hit him. Regardless of whether the guy flinches or not, your friend could be charged and convicted of simple assault (reasonable apprehension).
What are the Penalties for Aggravated Assault?
The different types of assaults come with varying degrees of penalties. The lesser form of aggravated assault is simple assault. Simple assault is a misdemeanor whereas aggravated assault is a felony.
1. Simple Assault Penalties
Simple assault is treated as a misdemeanor. In Georgia, the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is 12 months in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. Sometimes as a penalty, the judge might sentence the defendant to probation instead of jail time. Meeting with a probation officer in lieu of a jail sentence is a major blessing. The judge may also require some sort of community service, anger management classes, or family violence classes when the victim is a family member.
2. Aggravated Assault Penalties
Aggravated assault is treated as a felony in the state of Georgia. There is much more variance in felony sentences as opposed to misdemeanor sentences. For your basic aggravated assault charge, the minimum penalty is one year imprisonment. The maximum penalty you can get is twenty years imprisonment.
There are several types of enhancements with aggravated assault cases. As stated previously, a drive by in a school zone moves the mandatory minimum up to 5 years. Your sentence can also be enhanced if the alleged victim is over 65 years of age, if the crime occurred on a public transit vehicle, or the alleged victim is a family member other than a sibling. If any of the above enhancements are at play, your new mandatory minimum is 3 years instead of 1 year.
The difference in these penalties and the variance between one year and twenty years is why it is so important for you to take your criminal case seriously. You should seek legal advice as soon as possible. One of the best resolutions that you could get in your case is for it to be reduced down to a simple assault or simple battery so that you are only facing misdemeanor penalties.
What are Common Defenses to the Crime of Aggravated Assault?
1. Self-Defense and Defense of Others
A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend himself or a 3rd person against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.
Ex./ A guy punches your friend in the bar. To protect your friend from any further harm, you strike the guy in the face, knocking him out. You are legally justified in this scenario under the doctrine of self-defense and defense of others.
2. Constitutional Right Violation
The Constitution of the United States and of the State of Georgia requires law enforcement officials to follow a strict process when investigating crime. We as citizens are protected under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution from unreasonable searches and seizures. When peace officers violate our Fourth Amendment rights while carrying out their official duties, the evidence they find as result of that violation can be excluded from being introduced at your trial. A well experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to help you navigate these complex legal issues in your assault case and other types of criminal cases as well.
Can I Get a Bond for Aggravated Assault in Georgia?
The simple answer is yes you can get a bond, but it really depends on the judge. Ga Code section 17-6-1 subsection (a)(11) lists aggravated assault as a criminal offense that is only bailable before a Superior Court Judge in Georgia.
Your defense lawyer acting as an officer of the court must file a motion asking for a bond to be set in your case. With aggravated assault being a violent crime, you may get push back from the prosecutor. If that is the case, a bond hearing will be scheduled.
At your bond hearing, your defense attorney will attempt to convince the judge that you:
- Pose no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;
- Pose no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, public safety or to any property in the community;
- Pose no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial; AND
- Pose no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.
If successful, the Superior Court Judge will grant a bond for your release.
Contact a Statesboro Lawyer Today
Aggravated Assault can be a complex criminal offense. You need a lawyer that will fight for you and help you understand the entire legal process. At Joseph Williams Law Firm, our lawyer has experience with aggravated assault cases. He will be with you the entire way. Please contact us for a free consultation at 912-259-6548 or fill out our online contact form to speak to a defense attorney today.
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