Assault and battery charges are taken very seriously by Alabama prosecutors. As a violent crime, if you are convicted of assault or battery, you could be facing time in jail or prison, fines, court costs, and community service. If you have been accused of a violent crime, an Alabama assault lawyer can advise you of your legal rights.
The terms “assault” and “battery” are often used interchangeably in everyday conversation and in news stories, but their meanings in many states differ when it comes to legal terminology. Many states define assault as placing a victim in fear of imminent danger of bodily harm while battery means causing a physical injury. However, the Alabama code defines assault similar to the same way that many other states define battery.
A person may be convicted of first-degree assault if, with the intent to cause serious bodily injury or disfigurement, caused a serious injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. Another definition of first-degree assault is when a person intends to cause disfigurement or amputation to another person and actually causes the injury.
A person may be charged with first-degree assault in Alabama if they seriously injure a person during the commission of a serious felony or while in flight from committing a crime.
Reckless conduct may lead to an assault charge if a person is acting under circumstances manifesting “extreme indifference to the value of human life and seriously injures another person.
First-degree assault is a Class B felony.
A person commits second-degree assault if they intend to cause serious physical injury to another person and actually do so, with or without a weapon. A person using a deadly weapon commits second-degree assault if they cause physical injury to another person.
Causing physical injury to a law enforcement officer acting within the line of duty, an officer at a correctional facility, utility worker, firefighter, medical provider, or teacher can also lead to a second-degree assault charge.
Introducing an intoxicating substance to a person without their consent is another way a person may be charged with assault.
Second-degree assault is a Class C felony.
A person commits assault in the third degree if he or she intends to cause physical injury to any person and causes an injury or recklessly causes a physical injury.
If a person commits criminal negligence and causes harm to any person with a deadly weapon, they may be charged with third-degree assault.
A person who tries to prevent a law enforcement officer from acting in the line of duty is guilty of third-degree assault if they cause an injury to any person.
Third-degree assault is a Class A misdemeanor.
A person may be charged with aggravated assault if their conduct under the circumstances makes the situation more serious than if they had only been intending to commit assault. For example, if the assault is committed during the course of a robbery with a deadly weapon, the crime may be considered aggravated assault.
The punishments for aggravated assault are more serious than for simple assault where the defendant only intended to harm the victim.
If you have been accused of any level of assault or battery, a court may issue a no-contact order to prevent you from contacting the alleged victim in the case. If a court has ordered no contact with you and another individual, you must not contact that person under any circumstances, even if they contact you first.
Violation of a no-contact order could mean that an assault charge will result in revocation of your bond and jail time for you, even if the victim does not want to press charges.
After reviewing the evidence in your case, an Alabama assault lawyer will be able to discuss your options, whether or not you wish to plead guilty, what sentence you will likely receive if you plead guilty or proceed with a trial, and what defenses are available to you based on the evidence and your statements to your attorney.
Following are some common defenses to assault charges:
To be convicted of criminal assault, you must have had the intent to harm the victim or cause fear. If what happened was an accident or you were unable to understand what you were doing because of mental disease or defect, you may be found not guilty because you lacked the intent to commit the crime.
The state must prove all elements of the crime. If the state fails to prove even one element, you must be found not guilty. If witnesses are subpoenaed to come to trial are unavailable or do not respond to the prosecutor’s subpoena, the state may lack the evidence to prosecute your case.
If you committed battery or assault but did so under circumstances where doing so was necessary to defend yourself or another person, you may be able to argue that you were acting in self-defense. Self-defense must be used only to the extent necessary.
A common misconception is that if the victim struck first, you have an absolute right to fight back in self-defense. If one person attempts to retreat from a fight, continuing any violence after that will likely not be considered an act in self-defense regardless of who struck first.
A common question that many individuals ask about assault and battery charges is what happens if the victim does not want to move forward with the case? This is common in domestic violence cases where the parties involved intend to reconcile. A misconception that many people have is that the state must drop charges when a victim does not want to press charges.
Once charges ARE filed, prosecutors will take a victim’s input into account, but charges will not automatically be dropped in all cases where the victim no longer wants to press charges. Prosecutors will make a decision based on what other evidence is available, such as proof of injuries, whether or not the defendant admitted to the alleged acts, and whether or not there were other witnesses.
If you have been accused of assault in Alabama, speak to a lawyer right away. In some cases, an assault attorney can prevent charges from being filed before you are even arrested. If this is not possible in your case, our attorneys will work with you to determine the best defense strategy and work to get the charges dismissed or at least minimize the consequences to you by fighting the case at trial or getting the charges reduced to a lesser offense.