Intentionally causing someone a physical injury is prohibited in New York as in the rest of the country. Known as assault, the key ingredient to the crime is the intent to cause the injury. There are various degrees to the crime of assault, depending on the use of deadly weapons, the mens rea of the person accused of committing the crime and the seriousness of the injury. Therefore, for first and some second degree assault offenses, there must be the specific intent to cause serious physical injury to the alleged victim.
When it comes to third degree and some second degree assault charges, it is not necessary to prove specific intent-it is enough to infer intent from the person’s conduct, acts or surrounding circumstances. For example, the crime of reckless causation of serious physical injury to another by means of a deadly weapon does not require specific intent to be proven.
Aggravated assault is a violent felony and has the most serious consequences. Aggravated assault takes place when someone is accused of committing assault with a deadly or dangerous weapon against someone who they should have known or did know is either a police officer or an officer of the peace; or the person who commits assault is 18 or more and the act is committed against someone less than 11 years old.
Penalties for assault range from one year in prison for third degree assault to up to 25 years in prison for first degree assault. There are also substantial fines attached, depending on the degree one is convicted of.
Given the nature of the penalties, it is very important to take violent crimes charges seriously. In order to prove the most serious forms of assault, the prosecution must prove that there was a specific intent to cause that injury. Therefore, an experienced attorney may be able to argue lack of intent or prepare an aggressive defense attacking another line of argument.