In Arkansas, there are several levels of assault. There is assault in the first, second, and third-degree. There is also aggravated assault, which is the most serious. Aggravated assault is, in fact, a felony (Class D). The other levels of assault are misdemeanors. To be convicted of aggravated assault, a person must have shown an extreme disregard for the value of human life while engaging in conduct that created substantial danger of death or serious bodily injury to another person; displaying a firearm in a way that created substantial danger of death or serious bodily injury to another person, or prevented the breathing or blood circulation of another through the application of pressure to the throat or neck or blocking the nose or mouth.
The potential penalties faced by a person charged with aggravated assault are severe and can include time in state prison for no more than 6 years. This maximum may be increased, however, should there be further aggravating circumstances attached to the charge. There is also the potential to be hit with up to $10,000 in fines, probation, community services, as well as court-ordered restitution to compensate the victim for any necessary medical and related expenses. Fortunately, an aggravated assault charge need not turn into a conviction. There are several viable defenses that can clear a person from these types of charges.
Common Defenses in Aggravated Assault Cases
As it is with any criminal charge, the precise defenses available largely rest on the specific facts and circumstances of a case. In every case, of course, the burden of proof lies with the State. The State is tasked with proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means prosecutors must be able to prove the state of mind of the person charged with aggravated assault along with every single factor the charge requires.
Because of the substantial burden the State carries, one of the most common criminal defense strategies is simply to undermine the strength of the State’s case. To poke holes in its weakness and create that reasonable doubt. There are also several affirmative defenses that are commonly asserted in aggravated assault cases. Affirmative defenses essentially mean that the defendant did commit the act involved in the charge, but it was not a criminal act because other circumstances present.
For instance, self-defense is a commonly asserted affirmative defense in aggravated assault cases. In order to assert self-defense, defense counsel must be prepared to prove that:
- There was a threat of unlawful force against the defendant;
- The defendant had a real and honest perceived fear of harm to themselves;
- The defendant in no way harmed or provoked the other party; and
- There were no reasonable means of escaping the situation.
So, with self-defense, the defendant is asserting that yes, the aggravated assault did occur, but it was only because they were in fear of harm to themselves and there was no other way to reasonably get out of the situation safely. This is similar to another commonly asserted defense to an aggravated assault charge which is the defense of others. With the defense of others, however, it is not a real and honest perceived fear of harm the defendant has for themselves, but, instead, to someone else.
Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing a criminal charge can make a person feel defeated even before any trial occurs. Know that there are ways to successfully defend yourself against a criminal conviction. The Law Office of Bryce Cook rigorously defends clients facing criminal charges in order to make every effort to prevent that criminal charge from turning into a criminal conviction. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.