Assaulting a Police Officer
Under New York law, a person can be charged with assault on a police officer if they attacked someone that they knew (or should reasonably have known) to be a police officer with the intent of preventing them from performing a lawful duty, and the attack resulted in serious physical injury.
- State Penalties for Assaulting a Police Officer:
Assaulting a police officer is a Class C felony punishable by 1-15 years in prison. If a dangerous weapon is used during the altercation, the charge escalates to aggravated assault and the punishment increases in severity to a 1-25 year term in state prison. Aggravated assault on a police officer is a Class B felony. For a person to be convicted, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they acted with intent to cause serious harm, that they knew they were attacking a police officer engaged in the course of performing his or her official duties, and that they used a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to accomplish the assault. Under the aggravated assault upon a police officer statute, the term ‘deadly weapon’ is defined to include firearms, knives, blackjacks, billy clubs, daggers, and metal knuckles.
- Difference between New York State and Federal statutes:
It is a federal offense to attack a federal officer who is doing their job. The law defines a federal law enforcement officer as an officer, agent, or employee of a government agency who has a duty to detect, investigate, or prosecute federal criminal law violations. As in New York state law, various degrees of assault exist under federal law. Assault resulting in bodily injury can be punished by a maximum of 20 years in a federal prison, while assault resulting in serious physical injury or involving the use of a dangerous weapon can incur a 30-year sentence.
- Related Crimes:
Gang Assault, Attempted Gang Assault, Assault with Intent to Commit Murder, Vehicular Assault
- When is the best time to act?:
Assault on a police officer is a crime that incurs severe punishment under New York law. The moment that a person is arrested or led to believe that they are a suspect, they should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. If convicted, they can spend up to 25 years in state prison, so skilled legal advice is mandatory.
- Successful Defenses:
If charged with assault on a police officer, a person can claim that the officer was not performing a lawful duty at the time the assault took place. They may also allege self-defense if the officer was using excessive force.
- High profile/Government cases:
In March 2012, Cecily McMillan, 25, an Occupy Wall Street activist, was found guilty of felony assault and sentenced to three months in jail and five years of probation. She was also ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation. Ms. McMillan elbowed a police officer in the eye when he tried to arrest her during a demonstration marking the six-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests.