Assault occurs when someone willfully attempts or threatens to cause you harm. It is not critical that actual harm is inflicted on you. This means that no actual striking, touching, or inflicting bodily harm has to occur. Once the offender shows intention or force that would cause fear in the victim that he or she will be harmed, it is already considered an assault
Aggravated assault is a more serious form of assault. The offender attempts to inflict severe body injury on another person or to inflict serious bodily injury, purposely and knowingly, without regard for the value of human life. Using a deadly weapon can also qualify a simple assault to an aggravated assault. Other factors which qualify aggravated assault are the age of the victim, the victim’s status, the intention of the offender, and the severeness of the injury inflicted.
Degrees of Aggravated Assault
- First Degree. First degree aggravated assault is when premeditation is involved. This means the offender has already intended to cause serious bodily harm beforehand, or intentional severe bodily harm has been inflicted.
- Second Degree. Second degree aggravated assault does not involve premeditation. This means the offender did not plan to cause serious bodily harm even if it was actually committed.
- Third and fourth degree. Third and fourth degree aggravated assault also do not involve premeditation and the bodily harm inflicted is only significant and not serious. The difference between the third and fourth¬degree aggravated assault is the significance of the bodily injury inflicted.
A person found guilty of assault can both be penalized civilly and criminally. A defendant who is guilty of civil assault is liable for damages. A jury will determine the types of damages to be awarded and their respective amounts. Compensatory, nominal, and, in some instances, punitive damages may be awarded if the jury deems it proper. For criminal liability, a person guilty of assault can be sentenced to a fine, imprisonment, or both. Compared to simple assault, the penalty is more severe for aggravated assault. For this, the penalty will depend on the degree of the aggravated assault, and the severity of the injury inflicted.