A charge for simple assault in Louisiana may be considered a misdemeanor. However, a simple assault charge can be elevated to aggravated assault, depending on the circumstances involved in the incident. If you are accused of aggravated assault, you risk being charged with a felony.
Use of a deadly weapon
If a deadly weapon is involved in an assault, the assault charge will always be aggravated. Even if the accused person didn’t use the weapon to cause physical harm, the weapon would be considered a threat to the victim. A deadly weapon could be a gun, a large knife or another thing that is used to cause fear of severe injury.
Details about the victim
Certain occupations are more protected than others in criminal law. For example, any physical harm or threat to a police officer or firefighter is typically classified as aggravated assault. However, an assault charge would only be considered aggravated assault if the victim was on duty and the accused person knew the victim’s job status.
An assault may also be considered aggravated if the victim was targeted for a protected characteristic like race or sexual orientation. This type of targeting is often called a “hate crime” and is related to the intent behind the assault.
The intent behind the assault
The accused person’s intentions are very important in certain types of criminal charges. When it comes to an alleged assault, a judge will be very interested in whether the accused person intended to cause physical harm to the victim. A premeditated attack would likely be viewed more harshly than a hot-blooded assault or a negligent accident that caused an injury.
Severity of injuries
The severity of the victim’s injuries is another factor that can elevate an assault charge to an aggravated assault charge. Usually, serious bodily injury is always considered aggravated assault. If the victim had life threatening injuries, the charge may even be elevated to attempted murder.
Defense against an aggravated assault charge
If you are charged with aggravated assault, you may be able to argue for a reduced charge by proving that the assault was not premeditated or motivated by protected characteristics. In some cases, an accused person may be able to have their charge dropped by proving that their actions were in self defense.