Assault is a serious criminal offense in the state of New York that can result in severe legal consequences for those convicted. Whether intentional or reckless, physical violence towards another person is not tolerated by the law. The New York Penal Law outlines different degrees of assault, each with varying levels of severity and potential penalties. Understanding these laws is important not only for those accused of assault but also for anyone who wishes to stay informed about their rights and protections under the law. In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will explore New York assault laws, including the different degrees of assault and their respective penalties, as well as potential defenses and legal options for those accused of assault.
What Is Assault?
Assault is most simply defined as purposefully or carelessly inflicting physical injury on another person. While physical contact and injury are necessary in New York in order to be charged with assault, this is not the case in several states where the crime of assault is defined as purposefully putting another person in reasonable fear of physical danger.
What is Felony Assault?
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. Additionally, 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.
(10.00, New York Penal Law).
New York Assault Chargers
First-Degree Assault in New York
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 another dangerous object. Again, 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.
Third, 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.
Second Degree Assault In New York
New York divides second-degree assault into 12 scenarios. Second-degree assault occurs when a defendant:
- intentionally causes a serious physical injury. Keep in mind that the crime occurs even if the defendant winds up injuring someone other than the intended victim
- intentionally causes physical injury using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. Again, it is irrelevant whether the intended victim or someone else is injured.
- intending to prevent certain categories of persons from performing a lawful duty, causes physical injury to any of those persons by acts including releasing or failing to control an animal. To be charged with this crime the circumstances must indicate that the defendant intended that the animal obstruct the performance of a lawful duty. The categories of persons covered by this aspect of second-degree assault are 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.
- recklessly causes a serious physical injury by using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument — for instance, throwing a chair at someone.
- gives a drug or substance to someone without that person’s consent (and for non-medical purposes), with the intent to cause stupor, unconsciousness, or other physical impairment or injury.
- while committing or attempting to commit a felony (other than the assault) or fleeing immediately after, and in order to help the crime or escape succeed, causes physical injury. The injury can be caused by either the defendant or an accomplice and the victim must be a non-accomplice.
- intentionally causes physical injury to a victim while being held in a correctional facility after being charged with or convicted of a crime. Again, assault occurs so long as the defendant intended to cause an injury, even if the defendant injures a person other than the intended victim.
- if the defendant is at least 18 years old and with the intent to cause physical injury to a victim who is younger than 11 years old, ends up actually recklessly causing serious physical injury.
- if the defendant is at least 18 years old, and intentionally causes physical injury to a victim who is less than seven years old.
- at a place a defendant knows or reasonably should know is on school grounds intentionally causes physical injury to an employee of a school or school district. Alternatively, if the defendant is not a student of the school or district, it is a second-degree assault to intentionally cause physical injury to a student of the school or district who is present on the school grounds for educational purposes.
- intentionally injures a train operator, ticket inspector, conductor, signalperson, bus operator, or station agent performing an assigned duty on, or directly related to, the operation of a train or bus, or intentionally injures a city marshal, traffic enforcement officer, traffic enforcement agent, registered nurse or licensed practical nurse or sanitation enforcement agent performing an assigned duty.
- intentionally causes physical injury to a person who is at least sixty-five-years-old, when the defendant is at least ten years younger than the victim.
Third Degree Assault in New York
According to Penal Law 120.00(1), Assault in the Third Degree, a Class “A” misdemeanor, is predicated on the idea that you intentionally hurt your target person and caused “physical injury” to them. Similar to Penal Law 120.00(2), this paragraph and theory are based on the charge of the careless, not intentional, activity. However, this subsection and theory are based on the bodily injury you are accused of causing entailed “severe pain.”
The claim that a person punched someone once, or a certain number of times, and that the victim subsequently felt “severe pain” as a result of that punch may be the most typical example. These wounds frequently have bruising or redness, and they might even bleed a little, but they don’t have any lasting effects.
Penalties For Assault Charges In New York
Assault In The Third Degree
In New York, third-degree assault is a Class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum one-year prison sentence as well as a $1,000 fine. This kind of attack is perpetrated when a person purposefully injures another person physically, negligently injures someone physically, or recklessly injures someone physically.
Assault In The Second Degree
In New York, second-degree assault is a Class D felony that carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000. When someone knowingly causes another person substantial bodily harm, recklessly causes serious physical harm or negligently causes serious physical harm, it is considered a serious assault.
Assault In The First Degree
In New York, first-degree assault is a Class B felony that carries a maximum 25-year jail sentence as well as a $5,000 fine. This kind of assault is committed when someone purposefully injures another person severely with a deadly weapon or dangerous object, or when someone negligently injures another person severely with a deadly weapon or dangerous object.
A more serious offense than simple assault, aggravated assault carries a harsher sentence. It is committed when someone purposefully injures another person’s body while performing another crime, or when they do it while using a deadly weapon or another harmful object.
Assault On A Police Officer
Assault on a police officer in New York is a criminal offense that involves intentionally causing physical injury to a police officer, peace officer, or other law enforcement official performing their duties. It is a Class C felony and can result in imprisonment for up to 15 years. However, if a deadly weapon is used, the offense can be upgraded to a Class B felony, which can result in imprisonment for up to 25 years.
Assault As A Hate Crime
An assault may be classified as a hate crime if it was carried out because of the victim’s actual or alleged race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, belief system, age, disability, or sexual orientation. Penalties will be more severe as a result.
Other Assault Penalties In New York
In New York, additional sanctions, such as probation, community service, and required therapy or treatment, may follow a conviction on assault-related crimes. A conviction for assault charges in some circumstances may also mean the loss of particular civil rights, such as the ability to vote or the right to own a gun.
It’s crucial to remember that the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the defendant committed the crime.
What Evidence Is Needed For Assault?
The specific evidence required to prove an assault charge may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the case. In general, to prove an assault charge, the prosecution must show that the accused intentionally or recklessly caused the victim to fear immediate physical harm and that the accused had the apparent ability to carry out the threatened harm.
Evidence that may be used to prove an assault charge can include eyewitness testimony, video or audio recordings, physical evidence such as injuries or damage to property, and any statements made by the accused. It is important to note that each case is unique and the type and amount of evidence needed can vary depending on the specific details of the case.
Statute of Limitations in New York For Assault
In New York, the statute of limitations for assault depends on the degree of the offense.
For first-degree assault, which is a Class B violent felony, there is a five-year statute of limitations.
For second-degree assault, which is a Class D violent felony, there is a two-year statute of limitations.
For third-degree assault, which is a Class A misdemeanor, there is a one-year statute of limitations.
It is important to note that the statute of limitations can be extended or “tolled” in certain circumstances, such as if the accused has left the state or if the victim is a minor. It is also possible that there may be exceptions or variations to these limitations based on the specific circumstances of a case, so it’s important to consult with a qualified legal professional for advice on your specific situation.