What’s the difference between Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault?

Assault is the most common violent crime in Chattanooga. While there is a common understanding of what constitutes an assault, Chapter 13 Tennessee Code Annotated outlines two different offenses based on what occurred during the altercation, and what injury transpired or could have transpired as a result of the altercation.

The biggest difference between simple and aggravated assault is that an assault can be considered Aggravated if a weapon is used or serious harm is done to someone else. Once assault becomes aggravated, it also becomes a felony, and thus carries harsher sentencing.

Simple Assault

TCA § 39-13-101 defines someone who commits assault as:

(1) Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; (2) Intentionally or knowingly causes another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury; or (3) Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another and a reasonable person would

regard the contact as extremely offensive or provocative.

All of these situations are classified as misdemeanors, but depending on which one you are being accused of, your penalty can vary:

Subsection (1), a class A misdemeanor, carries a sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days and/or a fine of up to $15,000 Subsection (2), a class A misdemeanor, carries a sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days and/or a fine of up to $2,500 Subsection (3), a class B misdemeanor, carries a sentence of up to 6 months and/or a fine of up to $500

Aggravated Assault

TCA § 39-13-102 defines someone who commits aggravated assault as: (A) Intentionally or knowingly commits an assault as defined in § 39-13-101, and the assault:

(1) Results in serious bodily injury to another; (2) Results in the death of another; (3) Involved the use or display of a deadly weapon; or (4) Involved strangulation or attempted strangulation;

Aggravated Assault requires all of the elements of Simple Assault, along with more severe elements like serious bodily injury, or the use of a deadly weapon. It is also classified as a felony and poses larger sentences and penalties:

Subsections (1), (2), (3), and (4), all class C felonies, carry a sentence of 3-15 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. If the assault you are being accused of was not intentional or knowing, but reckless, it is a class D felony, and carries a sentence of 2-12 years and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

What Can I Do?

In any case, it is always good to consult with an attorney familiar with these laws. An experienced attorney can walk you through your charges and explain what they mean, as well as the process going forward. If you have been charged with assault and need representation, contact one of our experienced attorneys today.

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