In New York, hurting another person without cause is considered an assault. A Class D felony or a more serious Class B felony prosecution for assault is possible. The degree of the victim’s injuries, the use of a weapon or other item, whether the defendant caused the harm while conducting another crime, and (in rare situations) whether the victim is entitled to special protection under New York law are all considerations that affect the different categories of assault. This Eastcoastlaws.com article will outline all you need to know about felony assault in New York.
What is Felony Assault In NY?
There are two degrees of assault crimes: second-degree assault, which is a Class D felony, and first-degree assault, which is a Class B felony. In both degrees, the victim must sustain a “physical injury” of different seriousness. More specifically, whereas first-degree assault requires a more serious “serious physical injury,” second-degree assault may be tried in some circumstances if the victim just sustains a “physical injury.” Both degrees of criminal assault has several elements besides the necessity of harm. For instance, both levels include injuries brought on by carelessness or willful behavior.
Moreover, injuries brought on by either a “deadly weapon” or “hazardous instrument” are covered by both levels of criminal assault. Let’s establish a few of the common elements before discussing the specifics of each felony assault offense.
Physical injury versus serious physical injury
Victim experiences “physical injury” when they experience bodily pain or injury, not mental agony. This is due to the fact that “physical harm” under New York law is defined as “impairment of bodily condition or significant pain.” A “severe bodily injury” on the other hand increases the likelihood of mortality or actually results in it, as well as long-term disfigurement, poor health, or the loss or damage of an organ. (N.Y. Penal Law § 10.00).
When someone wants an injury to happen, they purposefully cause it to happen. In addition, under New York law, a defendant might be charged with assault for hurting anyone else, even someone who wasn’t the intended victim, as long as the criminal had the intention to cause harm. In other words, even if the defendant struck and hurt someone else instead of the intended victim, it was still an assault. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the criminal actually hurt the intended victim; what matters is whether the defendant intended to cause an injury.
When a person intentionally disregards a significant and unjustifiable danger that their activities may result in harm, they are acting recklessly. To put it another way, a person is reckless when they act recklessly despite knowing that they will probably hurt someone. Be aware that being willingly intoxicated or high does not offer protection from reckless assault. (N.Y. Penal Law § 15.05).
Deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
A loaded gun, various knives (such as switchblades, gravity knives, and daggers), billy, blackjack, and plastic or metal knuckles are examples of dangerous weapons. A “hazardous instrument” on the other hand is any object (including a vehicle) that, while not typically a weapon, can yet be utilized in a way that is easily capable of resulting in death or serious injury. For instance, using a dangerous object to assault someone may be considered doing so. (N.Y. Penal Law § 10.00).
Is simple assault a felony in NY?
No, simple assault is not a felony in New York State. Simple assault is classified as a misdemeanor under New York State law. The penalty for simple assault can include a fine, imprisonment for up to one year, or both.
However, it’s important to note that New York State has several levels of assault charges, and the severity of the charge and the associated penalties can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, if an assault results in serious physical injury, it may be classified as a felony.
Degrees Of Felony Assault in New York
Second Degree Assault
Second-degree assault is broken down into 12 possibilities in New York. A defendant commits second-degree assault when they:
- purposeful physical harm that is severe. Remember that even if the defendant accidentally hurts someone other than the intended victim, the crime still happens.
- knowingly utilizes a deadly weapon or other hazardous equipment to cause physical harm. Likewise, it makes no difference if the intended victim or someone else gets hurt.
- unleashing or failing to control an animal are examples of actions that intentionally hinder certain groups of people from carrying out their legal responsibilities by inflicting physical harm on any of those people. The facts must show that the defendant intentionally meant for the animal to prevent the performance of a legal duty in order to bring an accusation against them. Peace officers, police officers, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, sanitation enforcement agents, firefighters, emergency medical service paramedics or emergency medical service technicians, or medical or related personnel in a hospital emergency department, city marshals, traffic enforcement officers or traffic enforcement agents are among the categories of people covered by this aspect of second-degree assault.
- carelessly inflicts severe physical harm on another person by utilizing a lethal weapon or hazardous device, such as chair-throwing.
- provides a chemical or drug to a person without the person’s consent (and for non-medical reasons), with the intent to make the individual drowsy, unconscious, or to cause other bodily impairment or harm.
- Causes physical harm while conducting or attempting to commit a felony (other than the assault), or while escaping right away, and does so in order to further the success of the crime or escape. The victim must be a non-accomplice and the injury may be the result of either the defendant or an accomplice.
- willfully commits bodily harm to a person while being detained in jail or prison after being accused or found guilty of a crime. Once more, even if the criminal hurt someone other than the intended victim, assault still occurs if the defendant had malicious intent to do harm.
- if the offender, who must be at least 18 years old, recklessly causes significant bodily harm while intending to harm a victim who is younger than 11 years old.
- if the offender, who must be at least 18 years old, willfully hurts a victim who is under the age of seven.
- An employee of a school or school system is willfully hurt physically at a location that the defendant knows—or should know—is on school property. Alternately, it is a second-degree assault to purposefully harm a student of the school or district who is on the school grounds for educational purposes if the defendant is not a student of the school or district.
- intentionally causes harm to a station agent, city marshal, traffic enforcement officer, traffic enforcement agent, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or sanitation enforcement agent who is performing a job-related duty, such as a train operator, ticket inspector, conductor, signalperson, bus operator, or station agent.
- When the offender is at least ten years younger than the victim, they willfully cause bodily harm to someone who is at least 65 years old.
(N.Y. Penal Law § 120.05).
First Degree Assault
First-degree assault, the most serious type of assault felony, calls for more than just “physical injury” to the victim. In fact, a victim only qualifies as having been assaulted in the first degree if they have either had a major physical injury (as opposed to just a physical injury), a severe and permanent deformity, or have lost a body part. First-degree assault can happen in four circumstances.
First, it constitutes first-degree assault if the defendant intentionally intended to harm the intended victim or another person with a serious physical injury produced by a lethal weapon or other dangerous objects. Thus, even if the criminal injures someone other than the intended victim, it is still first-degree assault as long as the defendant is meant to do the harm.
Second-degree assault happens when a suspect purposefully disfigures another person’s face permanently or permanently damages, amputates, or disables a physical part or organ of another person. Again, the crime happens even if an unintended victim receives the required degree of harm.
Moreover, carelessly participating in behavior that poses a severe risk of death constitutes first-degree assault when it results in serious physical injury. For instance, it would probably be deemed risky behavior to drive a car into a crowd.
Fourth, first-degree assault occurs when a defendant injures a non-accomplice seriously while committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing from another crime (other than the assault). This injury is done to ensure the success of the crime or the defendant’s escape.
Penalties For Felony Assault in New York
If found guilty of felony assault, the defendant may be sentenced to jail time, probation, or both. In New York, a judge will impose a prison term with a minimum and maximum term as part of an “indeterminate” sentence for felony assault (for instance, three to nine years). The minimum and maximum terms may be established by the judge within a range. The maximum sentence for a felony conviction, for instance, must be at least three years and, depending on the severity of the crime, can be as long as 25 years.
A minimum term of one year is required and it cannot be less than one-third of the maximum duration. The minimum sentence must be completed before a criminal is eligible for parole. The defendant will end up serving the maximum sentence if he is not granted parole. A felony conviction carries a maximum $5,000 fine. With a criminal conviction, probation lasts for five years. (N.Y. Penal Law § 70.00).
The maximum jail sentence for a defendant found guilty of second-degree assault, a Class D felony, is 7 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of 3 years. A judge may impose an alternative term of a “definite” period of imprisonment of one year or less if the defendant is not a chronic violent felon or a repeat offender of a felony (meaning that the judge can order a term of one year or any other number of days between one day up to a year).
First-degree assault is a Class B felony that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison and a possible maximum sentence of 25 years.
(N.Y. Penal Law § § 120.10, 70.00, 70.02).
Consult With a Lawyer For Your Felony Assault Case
An assault charge is a serious thing. It’s crucial to speak with a lawyer who is familiar with the assault laws and punishments that apply to your situation. A skilled criminal defense lawyer might be able to persuade the prosecution or the jury that the defendant either didn’t mean to hurt someone or didn’t hurt them badly enough to warrant a charge of felony assault. This might lead to a case being dropped or a lighter punishment (perhaps by pleading guilty to a lesser crime like minor assault or disorderly conduct).