Facing criminal charges can be terrifying for any person, regardless of severity. In Tennessee, assault is one of many serious crimes that can have serious repercussions if convicted.
Understanding different types of assault, including their definitions and the criminal penalties they carry, is a must to avoid the life-changing consequences of a criminal conviction. What are the different types of assault offenses in Tennessee, and how can this knowledge prepare and inform your case?
In this blog, we’ll explore the key nuances of various assault types and review common defenses to dispute these charges in criminal court.
What Constitutes Assault under Tennessee Law?
Under Tennessee law, assault is a criminal offense charged when someone causes bodily injury or creates a reasonable fear of bodily injury in another person. It’s codified in § 39-13-101 of the Tennessee Code, which describes defendants as someone who:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;
- Intentionally or knowingly causes another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury; or
- Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact that a reasonable person would regard as extremely offensive or provocative.
Under Tennessee law, “offensive or provocative” encompasses any act intended to harm, insult, or frighten another, including (but not limited to) threats of force. As demonstrated in Tennessee’s criminal code, assault can encompass a range of actions, from inflicting harm to threatening or instilling a reasonable fear of harm.
As is the case with any crime, the severity of the offense will likely have a direct impact on sentencing and criminal penalties in the courtroom. Hence, it's imperative to work with a capable defense attorney with an in-depth knowledge of criminal law to avoid significant legal repercussions. There are various types and degrees of assault in Tennessee, including:
1. Simple Assault
Simple assault is typically charged as a Class A misdemeanor in Tennessee. A conviction is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and fines of up to $2,500. Common examples of simple assault include:
- Punching, kicking, or slapping someone
- Threatening someone with bodily harm
- Physical altercations without the use of weapons
2. Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault is a more serious offense than simple assault. As a felony offense, aggravated assault occurs when a person 1.) commits simple assault while brandishing or using a deadly weapon or 2.) when the assault results in serious bodily injury.
The penalties for aggravated assault can vary depending on the circumstances. Generally, this crime is charged as a Class C felony punishable by 3-15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Some common examples of aggravated assault include:
- Assaulting someone with a firearm, knife, or other deadly weapon
- Causing serious bodily harm to another person during an altercation
3. Domestic Assault
Domestic assault is a serious offense that occurs when the victim has a domestic relationship with the offender. This can include spouses, former spouses, individuals who are dating or have dated, individuals related by blood or marriage, or individuals who live together or have lived together.
Depending on the severity of the offense, domestic assault charges can be classified as simple assault or aggravated assault. A conviction is punishable by a range of penalties depending on the circumstances, but can include jail time, fines, mandatory counseling or treatment programs, and restraining orders.
Domestic Assault: Misdemeanor or Felony?
Typically, first-time offenders who commit domestic assault without aggravating factors will likely be charged with either a Class A misdemeanor (up to 1 year in jail and $2,500 in fines) or Class B misdemeanor (up to 6 months and jail and $500 in fines).
On the other hand, if the domestic assault falls under aggravated assault, the defendant will likely face felony charges and significantly higher stakes in terms of legal penalties, including up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
4. Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer
Assault on a law enforcement officer is a very serious crime in Tennessee. This offense is generally considered a Class A misdemeanor, but the penalties can be enhanced if the assault results in bodily injury to the officer. Assault on law enforcement can lead to significant fines, imprisonment, and other legal consequences, making it all the more crucial to secure an experienced defense as soon as possible.
Aggressively Defending the Accused in Clarksville
Our passionate criminal defense attorneys have over 40 years of experience in a wide range of cases, from domestic violence to drug offenses. If you’re in need of reliable representation in Clarksville or the surrounding area, look no further than the superior representation at Jeff Grimes & Associates, PLLC.
Facing criminal charges? Our Tennessee attorneys can fight fiercely to restore your freedom. Call (931) 398-5308 to schedule a consultation.