New York City Assault Cases

Under New York Law, the crime of assault has varying degrees. At the simplest level, Assault in the Third Degree (New York Penal Law § 120.00) is defined as when an individual intentionally causes injury to another person, such as when one person punches another in the face. There are two parts to this crime; the intent to cause injury to another and the injury sustained. In New York City assault cases, the burden falls on the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt both of these elements.

For example, if the person throwing the punch intends to cause harm and throws a punch, but no injury is actually caused, this would not be assault but rather an attempted assault. In addition, generally in cases where assault is charged, a person is at risk of being charged with a bunch of other misdemeanor crimes as well including Menacing in the Second and Third degrees, NYPL § 120.14 and NYPL § 120. 15 and Harassment in the Second Degree, NYPL § 240.26. If an individual is convicted of some or all of these misdemeanor crimes they could be facing up to a year or potentially more in prison.

How Does Someone Receive Charges for Assault in the Second Degree?

There are two possible ways to be charged with Assault in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law § 120.05): to intentionally injure another by using of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon, or to intentionally cause serious physical injury to another person. For example, if a person strikes another with a baseball bat or a beer bottle, that would be Assault in the Second Degree. Alternatively, if a person wanted to beat another badly and caused them serious injuries but did not use any weapons, that would also be Assault in the Second Degree. Serious physical injury is any harm where there is a risk of death, or an injury resulting in disfigurement or the loss of any bodily limb or organ. Assault in the Second Degree is a class D felony and is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

What Constitutes Assault in the First Degree?

Assault in the First Degree (New York Penal Law § 120.10) occurs when a person intentionally causes serious physical injury to another by using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. In New York City, these assault charges happen in shooting or stabbing cases with serious injuries. If the injuries sustained are not serious, Assault in the Second Degree applies. Assault in the First Degree is a class B felony and is punishable on par with charges like Attempted Murder, with potential jail sentences of up to 25 years upon conviction.

In circumstances such as a bar fight, where one person is punched or a shoving match breaks out, it is often easy to prove intent because what precipitates the physical fight is an escalating verbal dispute that may include threats. However, many times when assault is charged, the only actual injury caused is to the victim’s ego. Whether it be a scorned lover, a former business colleague, a jealous friend or a disgruntled neighbor, words can often be taken out of context and injuries can be exaggerated or fabricated. Prosecutors are likely to take their complainant’s words at face value and may look the other way at a “victim’s” personal motivation or gain in alleging criminal activity against a defendant.

To review additional discussions about specific Assault charges, please review the following links:

  • NY Penal Law § 120.10 – First Degree Assault
  • NY Penal Law § 120.05 – Second Degree Assault
  • NY Penal Law § 120.00 – Third Degree Assault

What Other Consequences Are There For an Assault Conviction?

In New York City, the jail time that comes with an assault conviction can be significant, especially for those charged with a felony. However, there are collateral consequences that come with these charges that are not written into statute. These collateral consequences often last long after someone pays their fines and serves their jail sentence. These collateral consequences may include:

  • Difficulty obtaining employment
  • Difficulty finding housing
  • Loss of voting rights
  • Loss of firearm rights
  • Diminished reputation
  • Loss of professional licenses
  • Immigration consequences
  • Child custody consequences

Defenses to an Assault Charge in New York City

No matter the specific assault charge a person faces in New York City, there are many potential defenses that could apply. While not every defense may be applicable, an experienced attorney could advise a person arrested for assault on the options that could help with their case.

One of the most common defenses to assault is a claim of self-defense. While causing serious injury to another person is routinely grounds for an arrest, doing so in self-defense is not a crime. A person has the right to use reasonable force not only to defend themselves but to defend others.

Mistaken identity claims are also common in assault cases. In cases where large fights result in multiple arrests, it is not unusual for the police to sweep up innocent and guilty parties. In these cases, a defendant could argue that they were wrongfully arrested for an act someone else committed.

Many defenses rely on showing the prosecution has failed to meet their burden of proof. The defendant is under no obligation to prove anything. In cases where the evidence is limited, holding the prosecution to their burden of proof can be the strongest defense startegy.

Speak with a New York City Attorney About Your Assault Case

It is important to hire an attorney who will closely examine all the evidence and look for any biases or motives a witness may have to “fake” an injury. Our attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman are experienced in reviewing medical records to ensure that all complaints of injuries are legitimate and backed up by medical support. If we detect any hint of personal biases or gain from a prosecution witnesses, we could expose that motive through skillful and rigorous cross-examination.

The best New York, New Jersey and Connecticut criminal defense lawyers understand there are many ways to attack these charges. At our firm, the attorneys look at a New York City assault case from every angle to ensure the best possible defense and result. Call today for a consultation on your case.

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