Sometimes we act out of passion or anger, saying words or committing actions we wish we could immediately take back. Even the most level-headed person can act rashly, or even violently, in certain situations and under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, acting impulsively can result in criminal charges.
Assault is considered a very serious crime within Georgia’s criminal justice system. It is often combined with “battery,” but these are two different crimes. In addition, there are times when assault is escalated to “aggravated assault.”
No matter the situation, you need an experienced Georgia assault defense lawyer by your side fighting to protect your freedom.
SIMPLE ASSAULT IN GEORGIA
According to Georgia Code 16-5-20, simple assault is the most minor form of the crime. It occurs when one person attempts to cause violent injury to another. The charge of simple assault may also apply to instances in which the alleged perpetrator makes threats or otherwise acts against the victim in such a way that they feel they are in immediate danger of violent injury.
Although simple assaults are typically considered to be misdemeanors, there are instances in which the misdemeanor is considered “of a high and aggravated nature”:
- When the assault happens on public transportation
- When the assault is against a relative and is considered domestic violence
- When the victim is 65 years or older
- When the victim is an employee of a public school and is assaulted while performing their official duties
- When the victim is pregnant
A conviction for a misdemeanor simple assault may result in fines up to $1,000 and no more than one year in prison. For misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature, the fines increase to a maximum of $5,000.
If you have been charged with simple assault, having a Georgia assault defense attorney from Hawkins Spizman Fortas representing you is imperative. You face not only the immediate consequences of a conviction, but long-term consequences as well. A conviction means that you have a criminal record which could impact your ability to live your life to the full extent you’ve become accustomed to.
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT IN GEORGIA
As the name implies, aggravated assault is more serious than simple assault. According to Georgia Code 16-5-21, assault becomes aggravated when the perpetrator commits an act with the intent to rob, rape or murder the victim.
Assault may also be considered aggravated when a weapon or item that can be considered deadly or can otherwise cause serious bodily harm is used.
In general, an aggravated assault conviction comes with a prison sentence of no less than one year but no more than 20 years. However, there are exceptions to this rule. These include:
- When the victim is a law enforcement officer or a correctional officer and the offense occurs while the official is performing their duties, it’s punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison.
- When the victim is over 65 years old, it’s punishable by 3 to 20 years.
- Aggravated assault committed on any type of public transportation is punishable by 3 to 20 years.
- When the victim of the crime is a commercial driver and theft of their vehicle was the goal, aggravated assault is punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of $50,000 to $200,000.
- Aggravated assault with a firearm against a student or teacher on school grounds is punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison.
- Aggravated assault that falls under the umbrella of domestic violence is punishable by 3 to 20 years.
- Aggravated assault with the attempt to rape a child under the age of 14 is punishable by 25 to 50 years in prison.
DEFENSES TO AN ASSAULT CHARGE IN ATLANTA
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your charges, your Georgia assault defense lawyer may provide evidence that would cause a judge or jury to find you not guilty of assault. The possible defenses include:
- Defense of yourself: you may have been protecting yourself from harm or a perceived harm. To prove self-defense, it must be shown that there was a threat, you had a real reason to be fearful, you did not provoke the incident and there was no reasonable chance of retreat.
- Defense of others: you must prove the same things as you would need to for self defense, but you would have been defending someone else from harm or a threat of harm.
- Defense of property: you may be able to show that you were defending your property from being invaded. You may be able to use force to retrieve property stolen directly from you and at that moment (purse snatching for example) or to protect your home from a break-in.
CONTACT A GEORGIA ASSAULT DEFENSE LAWYER TODAY
Assault charges are serious and should not be taken lightly. If you are convicted of assault, you will be facing fines, imprisonment and more. You may also find that your criminal record negatively impacts your ability to secure gainful employment or even housing. You need an experienced Georgia assault defense lawyer by your side to represent you, fighting to potentially have the charges reduced or even dropped.
If you have been charged with assault in Atlanta, simple or aggravated, call Hawkins Spizman Fortas at 770-651-0166 for a free case evaluation today. We will review the details of your arrest and advise you of your legal options. We will help you make the best decisions regarding your case and stand by you every step of the way. You can trust that you will be treated with the respect and dignity that you deserve.