In everyday language, many people think of an assault as a violent physical attack. However, the legal definition is different, and it is possible to face assault charges even if you have no physical contact with the supposed victim.
Contact a local defense attorney if you were arrested and charged with assault. You must take an assault charge seriously, even if the person you allegedly assaulted suffered no bodily injury.
The law considers assault a violent crime, and a conviction could severely limit your future opportunities. A Lawrence assault lawyer could investigate your arrest and present the most vigorous defense the circumstances permit.
Understanding Assault Charges
Kansas Statutes § 21-5412 defines the crime of assault. A simple assault occurs when one person intentionally puts another in fear of imminent bodily harm. Simple assault is a Class C misdemeanor.
Aggravated assault is a Level 7 felony. An aggravated assault could occur in one of three ways. It happens when one person causes another a reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm:
- While armed with a dangerous weapon, even if the weapon was not used or brandished during the assault
- While wearing a disguise, covering their face, or attempting to conceal their identity
- With intent to commit a felony
A simple assault committed against a law enforcement officer is a Class A misdemeanor, and an aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer is a Level 6 felony.
An assault does not require physical harm to the alleged victim—a person could be guilty of assault even if no physical contact occurred. Instead, the offense is committed when the alleged victim develops a reasonable fear of harm in response to the alleged offender’s words or actions.
Do Not Speak to the Police Without Legal Representation
Assault is a crime of intent—the accused must knowingly instill a reasonable fear in another person to be guilty of assault. It is difficult for a prosecutor to prove someone’s intent. Unfortunately, people facing assault charges sometimes make the prosecutor’s job easier by speaking with law enforcement officers without a lawyer present. Police officers are adept at using an accused’s explanations against them and twisting their words into an admission of intent.
No one should speak with police officers during or after an arrest until a Lawrence assault attorney is present to guide them. A seasoned legal professional could ensure the accused does not answer inappropriate questions or say something that could be construed against them.
Law enforcement must inform everyone they arrest of their right to remain silent and to have an attorney. A wise person will claim those rights by refusing to answer questions until a capable defense lawyer is present.
Defenses to Assault Charges
Every crime has specific elements a prosecutor must prove to get a conviction. A prosecutor must demonstrate that someone accused of assault:
- Knowingly created fear in another person
- The fear was reasonable
- The harm they feared was imminent
To prove these elements, the prosecutor also must show the alleged offender had the means to cause imminent harm to the alleged victim.
An experienced assault lawyer in Lawrence could show that the prosecutor’s proof of one or more elements of the crime is weak. For example, a skilled attorney could assert the accused was joking or the alleged victim misinterpreted their words or actions. Unless the accused admits to threatening the supposed victim or there is a recording of the alleged crime, it could be difficult to prove the accused intended to frighten the victim.
An inability to immediately carry out the threat also could be a viable defense. For example, a threat delivered via text or voicemail cannot be an assault in most circumstances.
Defeat Your Charges with a Lawrence Assault Attorney
Assault is classified as a violent crime, and a conviction could have a life-long impact. A Lawrence assault lawyer could help you defend the charges and avoid the consequences of being branded a violent criminal.
Do not try to manage a criminal assault charge without experienced legal counsel. Speak with a knowledgeable attorney as soon as you are arrested.