In New York, an assault occurs when a person injures someone else without legal justification. Assault can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a Class D felony or higher level Class B felony. There are two levels of felony assault – the lower level Class D felony of second-degree assault and the higher level Class B felony of first-degree assault. Both levels require that a victim suffer a “physical injury” of varying severity but with felony assault, the physical injury must be severe that creates a substantial risk of death, or actually causes death, long-term disfigurement, ill health, or loss or impairment of an organ.
These are the different types of felony assault which are:
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon – Assault with a deadly weapon is the act of menacing another person with a weapon that could cause death. This is usually a gun, but it doesn’t need to be. This form of assault does not include the action of using force, called battery, but it often leads to assault and battery charges.
- Sexual Assault – Sexual assault is any assault of a sexual nature on another person. What constitutes a sexual assault is determined by the laws of the jurisdiction where the assault takes place, which vary considerably, and are influenced by local social and cultural attitudes.
- Malicious Assault – Malicious assault is committed when any person maliciously shoots, stabs, cuts or wounds or by some other means causes bodily injury to another with the intent to kill or permanently maim, disfigure or disable the other person.
In New York, a prison sentence for felony assault is an “indeterminate” term, meaning that a judge imposes a sentence with a minimum and maximum term. A judge has the ability to set a range within both the minimum and maximum terms. The maximum amount of years a judge can sentence a defendant is 25 years. The minimum term must be at least one year and cannot exceed 1/3 of the maximum term. A defendant must serve the minimum term and is then eligible for parole. If the defendant is not paroled, he will wind up serving the maximum term. A fine for a felony conviction cannot exceed $5,000. The period of probation for a felony conviction is five years.
Defendants charged with felony assault or battery have the usual defenses available to all criminal defendants. A defendant can claim self-defense or defense of others and present evidence that the alleged victim initiated the confrontation and that the defendant was defending himself or another person from the alleged victim’s attack. That defense may take the form of showing that a weapon actually was in the victim’s possession or that the victim made the first threat or struck the first blow. Other possible defenses are that the defendant’s actions were purely accidental and that he had no criminal intent; or an insanity defense, in which the defense argues that the accused is mentally ill and did not have the capacity to control his behavior or to understand what he was doing or that his actions were unlawful. Most defenses usually do not work given that felony assault is a serious charge and most defendants look for leniency instead of a defense.
In the federal criminal system, an assault is an attempt to hit another person or an act that causes someone to reasonably expect impending harm. Certain assaults are federal offenses simply because of where they take place such as on United States property. Attacks that occur on the grounds of a national park, at a federal prison, or on board a United States ship, among other places, are federal assault crimes.
In 2008, Glen Rice, a former NBA player, was charged with felony battery after police say he assaulted a man that he found hiding in his estranged wife’s closet. According to police, it was alleged that Rice went to the home of his estranged wife Christina and beat Alberto Perez after finding him in the closet. After the beating, Perez had a cut on his forehead that required nine stitches. Rice surrendered to police without incident and posted bond. Charges were later dropped in this case.