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Assault Charges And Weapon Charges

Assault and weapons charges are two of the more common criminal charges that law enforcement and lawyers deal with on any given day.

Some charges can be misdemeanors, but others can be felony and criminal charges that can be life-altering. To overcome these charges, you’ll need an effective legal strategy to lessen these charges and work towards a better deal. 

If you are currently facing assault and weapons charges, contact a defense lawyer to assist you in getting your charges reduced or dismissed.

Assault And Weapon Charges

What are assault charges?

Assault charges refer to the intentional action of placing someone in fear of physically hurting someone or the action itself.

There are a few necessary components to validate an assault charge:

  1. The first and foremost is that the defendant intended to strike fear into the victim. Intentionality can be inferred or proven by previous history between the two parties, a probable cause for anger or aggression, or proof that the action was not an accident. Intent is more often than not the variable that’s argued the most when a judge is settling a verdict.
  2. There then needs to be proof that the victim felt threatened by the defendant. There must be a degree of awareness and comprehension by the victim, as well as a belief that they were in immediate physical danger.

An assault charge should satisfy all of these elements, but if there’s controversy proving any of them, even just one, your defense attorney can build a strong argument in court based on the evidence to get your charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

An assault charge differs from battery, although they are often combined together, they have two separate legal meanings. Battery is defined by the intent of making contact in a harmful way while assault with intent could be the act itself or the attempt and threat of it. Is assault and battery considered a felony? According to most state laws, both of these charges could escalate to the level of a felony. 

An expert attorney with experience in the field of criminal law can assist you with your legal needs when faced with impending charges. Consulting with a lawyer gives you an opportunity to share your side of the story, defend your constitutional rights to a defense, and provide a legal remedy to a difficult situation.

Types of assault charges

There are a few different degrees of assault charges one should be familiar with. 

  • Simple assault – Widely regarded as the least severe assault degree, since it is most commonly a low class misdemeanor crime, examples of simple assault include shoving, hitting, recklessly endangering someone, or threatening to physically harm someone.
  • Aggravated assault – Occurs when someone uses or threatens to use deadly or illegal weapons or acts under aggravated circumstances (for instance, revealing a concealed gun to someone as a threat of violence) and could result in serious bodily harm or disfigurement. Aggravated assault charges are penalized by fines upward of $4,000 or up to a year in prison.
  • Sexual assault – Occurs when someone commits non-consensual sexual contact with someone else (such as groping, kissing, fondling, and other more serious acts that could be defined here).
  • Verbal assault – Occurs when someone threatens to harm or kill someone in a specific and unambiguous way and there is definite belief in the victim that the speaker will carry out this threat.
  • Vehicular assault – Occurs when a person recklessly drives a vehicle, whether it’s a car, bus, truck, or motorcycle, and intentionally causes substantial bodily harm to another person.
  • Assault with a weapon – Also considered armed assault, this occurs when a weapon such as a firearm, knife, or everyday object like a baseball bat or broomstick is used to intentionally inflict harm or nearly result in death. 
  • Felony assault – Occurs when the assault was done to a victim who was a public servant or a police officer.

For each varying type of assault, there’s an adequate defense your legal representation can argue in court or in a pretrial motion to dismiss your charges. 

  • Lack of evidence – If prosecution cannot prove each element of the crime without sufficient evidence, your defense can cite this in an argument against the charges.
  • Coercion – While this defense would mean admitting to the assault, there would be significantly lesser charges should the defending party provide proof that the defendant was under duress and was forced to commit the crime by another person.
  • Involuntary toxication – This would refer to the event where a drug or substance was consumed by the defendant without their knowledge at the time of the assault. This would defeat the argument of intent if proven and with evidence of said drug existing.
  • Consent – If the victim requested at any point to the defendant to act in the manner that the assault is being charged for, it could be used as a valid defense against an assault charge.
  • Self-defense – If the assault, whether physical or threatened, occurred following an altercation or perceived threat from the victim, then the charges could be equaled out.

With the right criminal defense lawyer, your case could be fought for and 

What are weapons charges?

Weapons charges refer to the use, possession, and ownership of dangerous weapons. Dangerous weapons are defined by any animate or inanimate instrument, material, or substance which can be readily used to kill or induce serious bodily harm. 

While legal objects can be used as weapons, the US also has a list of illegal weapons ranging from brass knuckles, switchblades, explosive devices and multiple others that will vary by state.

The degree of penalties for weapons charges depends on a number of factors. The kind of weapon that was used, how it was obtained or bought, how it was possessed, where it was possessed, how badly the victim was wounded, and who the victim was. 

Each of these will also vary by state law. However, there are federal laws in place which have specific sentencing guidelines and statutes of limitations as it pertains to weapons laws in particular.

Firearm offenses, for instance, have sentences ranging from five to thirty years for possessing, brandishing, or using a firearm in an act of violence, and can only be prosecuted within 60 months, or roughly five years, according to the federal statute of limitations.

Types of weapons charges

Weapons charges are not only limited to knives and guns, but a broad range of weapons that can be used to threaten someone or induce harm.

The varying types of gun-related charges are as follows:

  • Illegal weapon possession – Felons or individuals with past criminal history may not have access to certain or all firearms, and possession of banned or illegal weapons and contraband would be considered criminal use of a weapon.
  • Possession of weapons in restricted areas – Concealing, possessing, or firing a weapon in a prohibited area, such as a federal building, is also not allowed.
  • Unlawful discharge of a firearm – Recklessly firing a weapon in a prohibited area or negligent of people and surroundings.
  • Concealed carry – Depending on the state, you cannot openly carry a weapon without a permit or license.
  • Illegal sale of firearms – Selling or trading an unlawful firearm to someone.
  • Firearm trafficking – Smuggling and transporting illegal weapons can have mandatory sentencing of 5 years for first offenders and up to 25 for repeat offenders.

Comparison between assault charges and weapons charges

Assault charges and weapons charges can sometimes be lumped with one another, especially if the case in question is assault with a firearm, but they are distinct legal concepts that are tried and judged differently. 

Assault charges deal more with the intent and malice of the defendant, which are intangible elements that don’t always necessarily involve physical contact, whereas weapons charges deal with more tangible elements such as the usage, possession, or smuggling/trafficking of weapons that therefore involve physical proof.

The sentencing for either charge also varies heavily. Assault charges will commonly see fines, probation, and a few years of imprisonment while weapons charges can have federal imprisonment and heftier fines and sentencing.

Do I need an attorney for a weapons charge?

An experienced criminal defense attorney is the most reliable and trustworthy legal defense against assault and weapons charges. With the seemingly endless list of laws in each state pertaining to weapons and assault, it can be difficult building a case without a lawyer to guide you through the process and argue on your behalf with the prosecution and a judge.

Contact a St. Petersburg criminal attorney at Anderson & Ackerman law firm. Our legal assistance is tailored to handle your specific case and situation. 

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