Have you been Charged with Aggravated Assault in Georgia?
Assault and various other crimes against a person require a knowledgeable lawyer to help you sort through the details of your case. Lawson and Berry and their team of Aggravated Assault Attorneys are experts in this field and are committed to helping you fight the charge. Remember, a charge is not the same as a conviction so call us today to schedule a free consultation. Don't wait to act because it could have detrimental consequences for you and your loved ones.
Aggravated Assault Defined in Georgia
O.C.G.A. §16-5-20: A person commits the offense of simple assault when he or she either (1) attempts to commit a violent injury to the person of another; or (2) commits an act which places another in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury.
O.C.G.A. § 16-5-21: A person commits the offense of aggravated assault when he or she assaults:
- with intent to murder, to rape, or to rob;
- With a deadly weapon or with any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury;
- With any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in strangulation; or
- A person or persons without legal justification by discharging a firearm from within a motor vehicle toward a person or persons.
The accused was found guilty of aggravated assault when he pointed a handgun at the victim with the intent of robbing the victim. Husband v. State, 275 Ga. App. 246, (2005). The accused frequented a convenience store where the victim worked. The victim asked the suspect to leave on some occasions when he suspected drugs were being sold. A couple of days before the incident, the defendant verbally threatened to kill the victim. Then one day the accused entered the store, pointed a handgun at the victim, and told him not to give any more information to the police and that “We…own this area.” The accused attempted to argue at trial that his threat did not constitute assault. However, the Court found that it was reasonable for the victim to be in apprehension of getting injured by the suspect. Therefore, the Court concluded that there was sufficient evidence to convict the suspect of aggravated assault as he used a handgun to place the victim in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury.
In addition, a defendant can be found guilty of aggravated assault even if they were not the one who attacked the victim. Romero v. State, 307 Ga. App. 348, (2010). In this case, two suspects accompanied their accomplice, Luing, to a convenience store knowing that Luing intended to assault the store clerk because of past differences. The two suspects served as the getaway driver and lookout Luing. When Luing one of the accused went into the store, the accused stood by and watched as Luing attacked the store clerk and then ran out of the store when he was done. Both of the suspects denied knowing that Luing was going to attack the victim when he went into the store. However, they did know that Luing had previously conflicted with the victim. Based on the evidence, the Court concluded that both suspects knew that Luing was doing since he went into the convenience store with a pipe and he had had an altercation with the store clerk before. Furthermore, they did nothing to stop the attack once it started. Therefore, they were both convicted of aggravated assault.
What has to be Proven
To be guilty of aggravated assault, the State must demonstrate that the suspect is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. With regards to assault, there must be a demonstration of violence coupled with an apparent present ability to inflict an injury that causes a person to fear that they will receive an immediate violent injury. Johnson v. State, 158 Ga. App. 432, (1981). Also, the State must demonstrate that a reasonable person would be put in apprehension of a harmful or offensive act.
Penalty for Aggravated Assault in Georgia
The penalty for an aggravated assault conviction is a prison term between one to twenty years. Also, the crime will be treated as a felony, which has grave consequences in Georgia.
There are specific situations in which the penalty for aggravated assault is already specified in the statute:
- An assault upon a peace officer while conducting their official duties has the penalty of a prison term between five and twenty years. O.C.G.A. §16-5-21(d)
- Assault upon a person who is 65 years old or older will result in a prison sentence of three to twenty years. O.C.G.A. §16-5-21(e)
- A person who knowingly commits the crime of aggravated assault against a correctional officer while they are engaged in their official duties will be sentenced to a prison term of five to twenty years. The phrase “correctional officer” includes wardens, guards, superintendents, and other officers of the state, county, or municipal penal institutions. O.C.G.A. §16-5-21(f)
- Committing aggravated assault in a public transit vehicle or station will result in a prison term for no less than three years and no more than twenty years. O.C.G.A. §16-5-21(g)
- Aggravated assault during the commission of theft of a commercial vehicle transporting cargo will have a penalty of incarceration for no less than five nor more than twenty years or a fine between $50,000 and $200,000 or both. O.C.G.A. §16-5-21(h)
- If the assault involves a firearm on a student, teacher, or any other school personnel on school property, then the consequence is a prison term of five to twenty years. O.C.G.A. §16-5-21(j)
- Assault between past or present spouses, foster parents and foster children, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, or other person living in a house will have a penalty of a prison term between three and twenty years. O.C.G.A. §16-5-21(k)
- An individual who commits assault with intent to rape a child under 14 years old will be punished by a prison term between twenty-five and fifty years. O.C.G.A. §16-5-21(l)
- Lastly, a person who commits aggravated assault on an officer of the court while they are engaged in their official duties shall be punished by a prison term for no less than five years and no more than twenty years. Officer of the court means a judge, attorney, clerk of court, court reporter, court interpreter, or probation officer. O.C.G.A. §16-5-21(m)
Another penalty that could be awarded by the Court is for the defendant to pay restitution to the victim. Restitution is where the defendant reimburses the victim for any expenses that resulted from the crime committed against them. It could include the cost of medical treatment or counseling. Anyone in Georgia that is convicted of assault of battery could be subject to this consequence.
A person who has previously had a felony conviction on their record could be required to serve the maximum sentence allowed for aggravated assault because of their prior conviction.
Also, there is a possibility that the court would impose probation instead of jail time for part of the sentence or in place of a jail sentence. This is left to the judge's discretion and is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If put on probation, the defendant would be required to meet regularly with a probation officer. There would also be conditions they would have to satisfy in order to have the assault charge dropped such as submitting to drug tests, performing community service, attending counseling, etc.
Having a felony conviction on your record can affect numerous areas of your life. You may not be able to purchase firearms, and some states do not allow you to vote. On a more basic level, felonies can hinder you from being able to obtain employment or even credit. Our Georgia Aggravated Assault Lawyers are prepared to help you fight your charge and try to protect you from receiving a felony conviction.
Aggravated Assault Defenses
Lack of Intent: Aggravated assault requires that the suspect commit the crime with the intent to do so. Any evidence that you did not intend to murder, rape, or rob could help you obtain an acquittal.
It was not a deadly weapon: If the object used was not one that is considered a deadly weapon or one that is likely to result in serious bodily injury, then you may not satisfy the requirements to be convicted of assault. Your Attorney can help you make an argument for this defense.
Self Defense: This is a common defense used in assault and battery cases. However, there are some things that you must show to establish that self-defense was necessary. You must show that (1) there was a threat of unlawful force or harm against you; (2) there was a reasonable basis for your fear of injury to yourself;(3) you did not provoke the threat; and (4) there was no reasonable chance for you to escape or retreat. One of our highly skilled Aggravated Assault Lawyers can assist you with establishing this defense.
Defense of Others: This argument is similar to regular self-defense with the only difference being that you must honestly believe that another person is in danger of being harmed. The victim must reasonably believe that they are in danger of being harmed to satisfy this defense.
Defense of Property: If you used reasonable force when defending your property, such as your home, then you may have an argument that the assault was justified. An example is if someone stole your purse or bag, then you could have the right to use reasonable force to recover that property. There is not a bright line rule on when an owner is allowed to use reasonable force. Instead, the Court rules on a case by case basis. Your Georgia Aggravated Assault Attorney will assist you in arguing that the force used was necessary, and therefore, the assault charges should be dropped.
Consent: If you received consent to touch a person or commit an act, then it generally cannot be considered assault. However, if the touching exceeded the intended amount, then there still can be grounds for assault.
Innocence: An alibi or witness testimony that you could not have committed the crime is always valuable. It can also be useful if there is a case of mistaken identity.
The victim was already dead: If a suspect wounded a victim after they were either dead or unconscious, then the victim was not placed in reasonable apprehension of being violently injured and therefore, a defendant will not be convicted of aggravated assault. Perez v. State, 281 Ga. 175, (2006).
While these are just some of the defenses your Attorney could use to help your case, every case is unique, and your Lawyer will evaluate your case to see which defenses will be the best option for your case. Your Attorney could negotiate on your behalf and try to work out a plea deal with less severe consequences or try to get the charges dismissed altogether.
What are not Defenses
I did not come into physical contact with the victim: Assault does not require that you come into direct contact with a victim m. The crime can still be committed if you created a reasonable apprehension that a harmful touching was about to occur. Tuggle v. State, 145 Ga. App. 603, (1978).
There was no injury: The crime of aggravated assault does not require that the victim actually suffers an injury. Sallie v. State, 276 Ga. 506, (2003).
It was my partner, not me who committed the assault: Even if you were not the one who directly assaulted a victim, you could still be convicted of aggravated assault. As described previously, recent case law has found that accomplices to the crime of aggravated assault can still be found guilty. Romero v. State, 307 Ga. App. 348, (2010). Furthermore, even if you were not the party to commit the crime, case law has found that your presence, companionship, and conduct before and after the crime can be used to infer that you participated in the offense.
The gun was not loaded: Even if the intended act could not be completed (i.e. the gun was not loaded, or it was a fake) if the victim honestly thought that they could be hurt, then an assault could still occur.
It was just a joke: Whether or not the threat was serious does not generally matter unless the threat was so unbelievable that the victim could not have honestly believed harm would come from it. If the victim was put in reasonable apprehension that a violent act could or was going to occur, then that is grounds for assault.
The victim did not say anything that made them seem scared: Proof that a victim has been placed in apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury does not have to be just by testimony. It can be inferred from the conduct of the victim. For example, if they began to retreat to safety or started to shield their body. Hurt v. State, 158 Ga. App. 722, (1981).
But it was my parents: Sometimes people are under the misconception that you cannot be charged with a crime against your parents. However, this is not true. If you placed your parents in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving an injury and you had the intent to commit a crime or used a weapon, then you would most likely be convicted of aggravated assault.
Having knowledgeable representation is of up the utmost importance when facing a criminal charge. Your Georgia Assault Attorney will investigate all the details surrounding your case and evaluate your options. They will be available all the time to you – even nights and weekends – because your case is important. Lawson and Berry and their team of Aggravated Assault Attorneys will work with you to fight your charge and avoid a conviction. Call today and schedule a free consultation.