“Aggravated” circumstances enhance the punishments associated with criminal offenses in Georgia and elevate many charges from misdemeanors to felonies.
Aggravated assault is a serious violent crime that has been updated in recent years with harsh minimum sentences for crimes perpetrated against particular individuals. If you are charged with this offense, you are facing a potentially lengthy prison sentence and many other life-altering consequences.
To beat a charge of aggravated assault, most defendants will need the assistance of a qualified criminal defense lawyer who can thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the alleged crime and is skilled at presenting the best defenses available.
It helps if you first know a little more about aggravated assault charges in Georgia.
What is aggravated assault (OCGA 16-5-21) in Georgia?
In Georgia, assault crimes can be classed as one of the following:
- Simple assault
- Aggravated assault
- Simple battery
- Aggravated battery
Felony aggravated assault in Georgia defined
The “aggravated” nature of the crime is determined by the actions that accompany the threats used; more specifically, whether a weapon was used and who the actions were perpetrated against.
Aggravated assault is dealt with in GA Code, OCGA 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
- The crime of aggravated assault also can be committed by a person or persons without legal justification by discharging a firearm from within a motor vehicle toward a person or persons.
So, aggravated assault cases require a violent act toward another individual with an apparent, present ability or capacity to inflict an immediate violent injury or death.
Most commonly, this involves the use of a gun or another type of deadly weapon, resulting in a felony aggravated assault charge. Alternatively, it could involve strangulation by use of the hands or an object (a cord or rope, for example).
Aggravated assaults against minors, police officers, school personnel and other public workers, such as probation officers, court reporters, correction officers and transit employees, etc. are treated more harshly than those against other individuals.
Assault – as defined in GA Code, OCGA 16-5-23
Assault in Georgia is the intent or attempt to cause another person physical injury or to reasonably fear an injury.
Assault and battery are frequently confused. Surprisingly for some people, assault requires no actual contact but, instead, deals with putting another individual in fear of harm.
So, if an individual swings and misses another individual with a fist or other object, it can lead to an assault charge — if the fear generated within the victim is real and reasonable and the incident is reported to the police.
Frequently, assault charges are pursued by prosecutors even when no overt act (like swinging a fist) is reported — it can be just threats of physical harm — because the charge is dependent on the level of fear induced in the victim of the assault and whether this fear was reasonable in the circumstances.
Eyewitness descriptions of the act(s) may supply the necessary evidence to support the felony charge of aggravated assault.
If actual offensive or insulting physical contact is made, such as punching, pushing or otherwise striking another individual, a charge of battery may apply. This may be elevated to aggravated battery, which is a serious felony crime, if a gun or other deadly weapon is used in the commission of the crime, for instance.
What is the minimum prison time for aggravated assault in Georgia?
The standard potential prison time for an aggravated assault conviction in Georgia is anywhere from one to 20 years, with minimum prison times applied.
The toughest penalties are for the rape of a child under the age of fourteen, which is a type of aggravated assault. This will result in imprisonment for not less than 25 years (up to 50 years).
Harsh penalties also apply to aggravated assault against public service employees. Anyone who knowingly commits an aggravated assault upon a correctional officer, public transit vehicle driver, probation officer, etc. while the employee is attempting to discharge his/her duties faces prison time of 5-20 years.
The maximum penalties were recently raised from 10 to 20 years for aggravated assaults against such employees.
How to beat an aggravated assault charge in Georgia
Several different defenses may be available in aggravated assault cases in Georgia, depending on the precise circumstances of a case.
Often, the prosecutor’s evidence relies heavily on CCTV or another form of video. The use of technology in such cases (such as cellphone tracking records) also makes some defenses preferable to others but each case must be built according to the evidence available (police paperwork, eyewitness accounts, video footage, etc.)
Most typically, we will argue one of the following defenses in an attempt to convince the prosecutor to drop the charges:
Defense of others is when an individual witnesses an attack and steps in to protect others. Again, using reasonable force to prevent an attack on someone else may be a legitimate defense.
These defenses are aimed at either getting the charges dropped or reducing the potential consequences if the case proceeds to trial.
If you’ve been charged with aggravated assault in Georgia, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can help reduce the impact on your future. Contact Michael Fulcher Law, LLC for a free consultation.