Can I Be Sent to Jail If I Am Convicted of Assault?

Oftentimes, people use the terms assault and battery interchangeably, or lump the charges together. However, in Georgia, they are two separate offenses. In addition, both assault and battery are broken down into two categories, including simple and aggravated offenses. If you are facing an assault conviction, the penalties will vary based whether the assault was simple or aggravated, and whether the assault included battery. Whether you were convicted of a simple assault or aggravated assault and battery, you could face a prison sentence, although the length of the prison term will depend on the severity of the crime. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will review the charges that have been brought against you, ensure that your legal rights are protected, and recommend the most effective defense strategy.

What Constitutes an Assault in Georgia?

While the definition of assault varies by state, in Georgia, an assault is when an individual acts in a way that causes the threat of bodily harm to another person. In other words, assault is the threat of battery, which occurs when actual bodily harm is done to another person. Physical contact is not necessary in order for an assault to take place. For example, if you got into a heated argument with another person, and you threatened to break their arm, this would be considered assault. There are two types of assault, including the following:

  • Simple assault: In Georgia, a simple assault occurs when someone attempts to commit a violent injury to another person, or commit an act that places another person in reasonable apprehension of immediately being injured.
    In order for someone to be charged with assault, the prosecution must be able to prove that the victim had a reasonable fear of being harmed. However, this can be challenging to prove since different people have varying levels of fear based on their size, gender, and other factors. Ultimately, it comes down to whether a reasonable person in the same situation would have felt afraid if they had been subjected to the same threatening or intimidating behavior. No touching or physical contact is necessary to be considered simple assault. This is a misdemeanor offense.
  • Aggravated assault: This is a felony offense, which is a more serious crime that involves the threat of extreme violence or the use of a deadly weapon. The following offenses are considered aggravated assault:
    – An assault with the intent to murder, rape, or rob
    – Assault with a deadly weapon, object, or device that can cause another person serious bodily injury
    – Assault involving an object, device, or instrument that is likely to cause strangulation when used offensively against another person
    – Discharging a firearm when operating a motor vehicle and threatening to discharge the weapon toward another person
    – The assault victim is over the age of 65
    – The assault victim is pregnant

What Are the Penalties for Assault?

The penalties for an assault conviction will vary based on the nature and severity of the crime. For example, if you are convicted of a simple assault, this is a misdemeanor offense, the penalties for which may include up to $1,000 in fines and up to 12 months in jail. Depending on the details of your case, you may be given one year of probation or restitution payments, which involves making payments to the victim for any damages. Keep in mind that the judge will not consider whether you are in a financial position to be able to make these payments.

If you have been convicted of aggravated assault, this is a more serious crime that comes with more severe penalties, including the following:

  • Significantly more expensive fines
  • One to 20 years in prison
  • Restitution payments

What Are the Defense Strategies for an Assault Charge?

If you are facing assault charges, it is highly recommended that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will review the details of your case and determine the most effective defense strategy. The following are examples of defense strategies that your lawyer may recommend based on the circumstances of your case:

  • A threat to commit injury to another person in the future, not immediately: A warning of future harm is not sufficient to find a suspect guilty of assault.
  • The victim was not in reasonable apprehension of an assault: If you are able to prove that the victim was not in reasonable apprehension of assault, you cannot be convicted of the crime. It will be up to the jury to determine whether the victim was in reasonable apprehension.
  • Self-defense: In order to prove self-defense, you must be able to show there was a threat of unlawful force or harm against you, there was a reasonable basis for your fear of injury, you did not provoke the threat, and there was no chance that you could escape or retreat.
  • Defense of others: This is a viable defense strategy if you can prove you believed that another person was in danger of being harmed, and the victim believed they were in danger of being harmed.
  • Defense of property: An assault may be justified if the use of force was necessary to protect or defend your property.
  • Consent: An act cannot be considered assault if you had consent from the other person to commit the act unless the touching exceeded the intended amount.
  • Innocence: If you have an airtight alibi or a witness can prove that you could not have committed the crime, this is an effective defense strategy.

Savannah Criminal Defense Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Clients Facing Assault Charges

If you or someone you know is facing assault charges, do not hesitate to contact the Savannah criminal defense lawyers at Kicklighter Law. Our highly skilled legal team understands the impact that a conviction can have on your personal and professional life. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances of your case, the charges that have been filed against you, and the evidence available to determine the most effective defense strategy that will result in the best possible outcome and ensure that your legal rights are protected. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients in Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.