Within the field of criminal defense, assault is perhaps one of the most misunderstood terms among people without a law degree. Simply hearing the word tossed around on television, and even looking it up in a general dictionary, will not result in an accurate legal definition under New York law. If you have been arrested and charged with assault of any kind, you need the help of an expert New York lawyer. Misunderstanding the nature of the charges against you could land you behind bars.
What is Assault?
In the simplest terms, assault is using force intentionally to injure another person, or acting in a reckless manner that injures someone else. There are many obvious examples of assault that come to mind, such as using a weapon to hit someone; beating up a victim with fists and feet; or intentionally hitting someone with a car. But there are more subtle actions that could be considered assault as well:
- Drugging someone without their knowledge
- Recklessly transporting hazardous materials while drunk
- Tripping someone as a practical joke
Sometimes the line appears blurred between an innocent activity and an assault. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can use evidence and testimony to show that his client did not intend to cause harm, even if someone was injured by his actions.
Unique Nature of New York Assault Law
The law in New York differs from that of most states in its definition of assault. Most states define assault as an attempt at causing injury, while battery is the actual act of causing injury. New York, however, does not make a difference between the two. Instead, the term “menacing” is used to describe an incident in which someone threatens injury but does not cause it. To be convicted on assault charges, you must be proven to have actually injured another person intentionally.
Defense Against Assault Charges
To fight assault charges, your lawyer will work to prove several things to the court:
That you did not actually injure a victim by your actions. The individual may have already been injured before you acted, or he may have been hurt afterwards.
That you did not intend to hurt anyone. An accident is certainly different from assault.
That the injured person had consented to your actions. This stipulation protects sports players who unintentionally injure opponents during games.
If you hope to avoid prison time, high fines, and a lingering mark on your criminal record, you need the expert help of a New York criminal defense lawyer. Contact the law office of Neil Weissman for your free consultation.