Understanding assaults and how a lawyer can help

Assaults come in various forms and can attract different penalties depending on the seriousness of the situation or the dangerousness of the weapon deployed. If you or a loved one has been recently assaulted, you might be interested in understanding assaults from a criminal law perspective, their types, and how a lawyer can help you.

Definition of Assault

From the criminal law standpoint, assault refers to any intentional act that causes another person to fear an offensive contact or imminent physical harm. Unlike what some people think, a victim doesn’t have to be physically touched or harmed for an assault to take place. An individual might have assaulted another by intentionally making someone feel apprehensive of immediate danger from a physical touch or strike.

Generally, assaults can be classified into the following forms:

a. Simple assault

This involves either the threat of immediate harm or a physical act that leads to minimal injuries. A typical example of a simple assault is raising a fist at someone and threatening to smack them, verbally threatening a person with violence, shoving or slapping someone in a manner that results in bruising, pushing someone intentionally in a way that causes injuries, and so on.

Generally, simple assault often carries misdemeanor penalties, so some states refer to it as a misdemeanor assault.

Depending on the severity of the assault, penalties may include a $1000 fine and up to 6 months in jail. However, the judge has the legal right to determine the length and extent of the sentence and how it will be served.

b. Aggravated assault

This form of assault often results in serious bodily harm, and the victim is often attacked with some kind of lethal weapons, such as a gun, knife, etc. Often, the attacker aims to kill or severely harm the victim, and the victim will usually be able to recognize the attacker’s intent even before launching the attack.

Typical examples of aggravated assault are shooting at someone or threatening to shoot at them, stabbing someone with a knife, assault resulting in broken bones or severe lacerations, etc.

Depending on the degree of harm inflicted, aggravated assault can have different penalties. Aggravated assault can result in stiff felony penalties of 10-, 15- or even 20-years’ prison time, plus fines of $5,000 to $20,000.

c. Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a common type of assault that requires scrutiny of facts and evidence to achieve a reasonable conclusion. Although sexual assault can be seen as aggravated assault, it deserves a separate category based on its complexity and sensitivity.

By definition, sexual assault refers to unwanted sexual behavior or activity that is executed by force or under threats and eventually results in long and short-term effects on the victim. Victims of sexual assault could be men, women, children, or even seniors. Women, however, have statistically been the most victims of sexual abuse. Usually, the victims and perpetrators of the act recognize each other, and the perpetrator takes advantage of the victim’s weakness.

If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted, a sex crimes attorney can help you get the justice you deserve. Sexual assaults come in different ways, so understanding the type of sexual assault you are dealing with can help your lawyer build a strong case.

There are different types of Sexual Assault:

1. Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse refers to any sexual act or statement with a child by a guardian, a teacher, a mentor, a parent, a relative, an adult, or anyone older and more powerful than the child.

2. Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

This is a situation whereby alcohol or drugs are used to illegally access a person’s body. These substances impair an individual’s ability to consent to sexual acts, making it easier and more comfortable for a perpetrator to commit sexual assault.

3. Marital Rape

Marital rape occurs when sexual acts involving penetration are committed without the victim’s consent and against their will when the perpetrator of the sexual violation is the victim’s current or previous spouse.

4. Acquaintance Rape

Acquaintance rape is when a well-known or trusted person forces a victim to engage in sexual activities involving penetration. The rapist may be a friend, colleague, family member, housemate, neighbor, or co-worker.

Bottom line

Sexual assault is a highly sensitive case of assault that needs solid evidence and experience to prove. Therefore, you need a well-versed attorney specializing in sexual assault cases to help you hold your perpetrator accountable. And even if years have passed, a sex crimes attorney can help you connect the dots and get the justice you deserve.