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Assault in the first degree and defenses available to defendants


When New York residents are accused of a crime, certain elements of the crime must be proven to convict the accused of the alleged crime. With regards to an assault charge, the defendant must meet the basic requirement for the crime in order to result in a conviction. And while violent crimes such as assault could carry serious penalties, these could be avoided if the accused is able to prove that intent to carry out the alleged crime did not exist.

According to New York Penal Code section 120.10, an assault in the first degree could occur in four different scenarios. First, when an individual had the intent to cause serious physical injury to another and he or she causes such an injury to that person or to a third party by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.

Second, the accused had the intent to disfigure another seriously or permanently, has the intent to destroy, amputate or disable a part or organ of another person's body permanently or causes such an injury to a third party.

Third, if the circumstances evince a depraved indifference to human life, an individual could be guilty of assault in the first degree if he or she recklessly engages in conduct, creating a grave risk of death to another person and results in serious physical injury to another person.

Lastly, an accused could be guilty of assault in the first degree if it is determined that in the course of the commission or attempted commission of a felony or an immediate flight from, the accused or another participant of the felonious act causes serious physical injury to another person that was not a participant in the crime.

There are likely three major defense options for a first-degree assault charge. This could include lack of injury to another person, lack of intent to cause injury, harm or death or justification for action, such as self-defense. In matters where self-defense is used, this is only applicable if the defendant was not the initial aggressor.

Because assault charges could result in serious consequences, it is important that defendants understand what defense options are available to them. A strong criminal defense could help the accused dismiss or reduce the charges against them, helping the defendant avoid severe penalties.

Source: Ypdcrim.com, "S120.10 Assault in the first degree," accessed Dec. 21, 2015

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