This is very broadly defined in two different categories. One involves a dangerous instrument, which is defined as anything and how it’s used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used, that is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury. So this is very, very broad. A deadly weapon means anything designed for lethal use, including a firearm. The major difference between the two is a deadly weapon is defined as something whose purpose can be used for lethal use. So swords, knives and firearms are the types of things that are normally considered deadly weapons.
A dangerous instrument broadens the scope of everything; vehicles can be used as dangerous instruments. For example, if someone threatens to run somebody over, the vehicle then becomes a dangerous instrument and is used to aggravate the assault to a felony aggravated assault.
How Does The Intent Of The Alleged Perpetrator Affect An Assault Charge?
Most assaults have to be done knowingly or intentionally. A client may say, “Well, I didn’t mean that to happen,” so they may not necessarily have intended for the consequences to happen; they just had the intent for their actions to happen. So, if you fire a gun and you weren’t aware of your surroundings and someone else is scared by that, you technically could be charged with an aggravated assault. Even though you didn’t intend for the consequences to happen, you did intend to fire the gun, and therefore that mental state is met.
However, some assaults also have just a reckless element to them. For example, if you were under the influence of alcohol and were reckless with your actions, you may not necessarily have intended for them to cause harm, but your actions were reckless because of the intoxication.
How Does The Involvement Of Drugs And Alcohol Impact An Assault Charge?
Their involvement definitely doesn’t make it easier to defend, but it doesn’t necessarily make it more difficult. The problem that comes up is oftentimes there is an underlying addiction issue. We try and seek treatment for those clients and show that if not for those substances, this person is normally a great individual. We would utilize this defense in the negotiation stage to try and say, “Look, if we treat the underlying problem, these types of actions won’t come up again.” We always try and help an individual by seeking treatment. Not only can this have a positive impact on the negotiations; but this will ultimately help the individual. This is the end game; helping people overcome their addictions and get the treatment they need. If they don’t fix the underlying problem, that person will be back to see us down the road.
How Does The Degree Of Injuries Sustained Affect An Assault Charge?
Let me offer a couple of different examples. For instance, if you impede the breathing of someone by choking and they file an aggravated assault charge against you, we may be able to show the state that the case may be difficult to prove if we can get to it early enough and the injuries seem to be minimal. If the plaintiff didn’t have substantial injuries, then the prosecutor may look at that and do a turndown, which means that they don’t want to move forward on the aggravated assault charge; instead, they would just move forward on a misdemeanor assault or refer it to the municipal courts.
This definitely plays a part in utilizing defense tactics. It also depends on the seriousness of the injury as to what the negotiations may be. So it may not affect anything as far as the defense of the case and how we’re going to work it, but on the negotiation side of things, if the injuries are a little less substantial and less severe, it’s sometimes easier to negotiate with the prosecutor’s office in finding some sort of resolution that doesn’t involve incarceration.
What Defense Strategies Can Be Used In Assault Cases?
Sometimes when there are mutual combatants — two people that get into a fight — sometimes the best defense that we’ll use is the fact that somebody was just defending themselves. You have a right to defend yourself against somebody that is trying to assault or harm you. The levels must match one another. If someone is coming at you and going to shoot you, then self-defense with a firearm may be appropriate; but if somebody is coming up to push you and you shoot them, a self-defense argument goes by the way side. Self-defense is something that can be utilized to show that you were defending yourself; and if that happens, we’ll try to negotiate that with the prosecutor and get a dismissal long before it ever gets to trial.
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