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Assault charges can vary significantly

When you're in the midst of a physical altercation with someone, you're likely not thinking about what specific laws you may be violating. Whether you were defending yourself, taking on someone who made a pass at your girlfriend or have had enough as a guy at the bar is disparaging your beloved Cavs, you could find yourself facing an assault charge. Some assaults are misdemeanor crimes, while others are felonies.

Simple assault is a misdemeanor. It involves knowingly or recklessly causing harm or attempting to cause harm to someone (including an unborn child). Most simple assaults are first-degree misdemeanor.

Another type of misdemeanor assault is called negligent assault, which is a third-degree misdemeanor. This is when someone causes harm to another person through negligent use of a deadly weapon. An example might be accidentally shooting a friend on a hunting trip.

In some cases, law enforcement determines that an assault is "aggravated," which makes it a felony. This requires that a person caused serious harm or used a deadly weapon in an attempt to cause harm, whether the other person was harmed or not. An aggravated assault charge also requires that the alleged perpetrator was acting "under the influence of sudden passion or in a sudden fit of rage."

Many of our readers are probably familiar with the phrase "assault and battery." Battery involves causing offensive bodily harm or physical contact, whether intentionally or negligently.

Penalties for these various types of assaults vary considerably. A negligent assault could land a person in jail for up to 60 days. They may also have to pay fines and restitution to the victim. A simple assault conviction could carry a six-month term. Felony assaults can carry prison sentences of up to eight years, with considerable fines and restitution.

With so much at stake, it's essential to seek legal guidance if you are facing any type of assault charge to ensure that your side of the story is considered. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors look at factors like your intent, the identity of the victim and how serious the injuries were.

How your assault charge is categorized can make a significant difference in the penalties you may face if you're convicted. Depending on the circumstances, of course, you may be able to avoid a conviction completely. That's why it's important not to face the justice system alone.

Source: FindLaw, "Ohio Assault and Battery Laws," accessed Feb. 07, 2017

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