I’ve Been Arrested for Assault – Is This a Misdemeanor or Felony?

I’ve Been Arrested for Assault – Is This a Misdemeanor or Felony?

You’ve gotten into a physical altercation with another person and now you have been arrested for “assault”. The question many defendants often ask is whether they have been charged with misdemeanor assault or felony assault.  It is an important distinction to understand, as the consequences for both can significantly impact your future.

In New York, there are three degrees of assault by which a person can be criminally charged  – Assault in the First Degree, Assault in the Second Degree, and Assault in the Third Degree.  Each degree has its own individual elements that must be made out in order for you to be charged with that crime.  And, while many may believe that the level of seriousness increases as the degree increases, it is actually the opposite.

Assault in the Third Degree:

Assault in the Third Degree is the least serious charge of the three levels.  However, that is not to say that an Assault 3 charge is not serious.  You can be charged with Assault 3 if you cause physical injury to another person, either with intent, or recklessly, or with criminal negligence through the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.  If charged with this offense, you face a potential Class A Misdemeanor conviction with a possible sentence of up to one year in jail.  Further, with this charge (and with the other degrees as well), you will likely have an order of protection issued against you.  This means that you must stay away from the named individual in the order, and if you contact that person, you are exposing yourself to further criminal liability.

Assault in the Second Degree:

As stated, contrary to what many believe, as the degrees of Assault lessen, the seriousness of the charge increases.  Thus, Assault in the Second Degree is a Class D felony, a much more serious offense than the Assault 3 misdemeanor.  Assault 2 is not only a felony, but it is considered a “violent” felony.  This means the potential punishment is more severe than a “non-violent” felony offense and, if convicted, you will then be considered a “violent predicate,” which can impact sentencing on any future cases.  For comparison, if convicted of Assault 2, the minimum sentence that can be imposed is a two-year prison sentence –  quite different from the minimum sentence allowed on a non-violent D felony, which is probation (a non-incarceratory sentence).

Assault in the First Degree:

Finally, we have the most serious of the Assault charges, Assault in the First Degree.  If charged with Assault 1, you are facing a Class B violent felony conviction.  To better explain what that means, all felonies range from Class A to Class E, with the Class A offenses being the most serious ones (i.e. murder, kidnapping).  So, if faced with a Class B felony assault charge, you can be sure that the District Attorney’s Office is going to take your case very seriously.  Even more so, as a Class B felony offense, the maximum potential sentence is not something that should be taken lightly – if convicted of Assault 1, you can be imprisoned up to twenty-five years.

An assault charge, whether it be a misdemeanor or felony, can carry serious consequences.  The Law Offices of Julie Rendelman, LLC is experienced with handling violent criminal offenses and will fight for your freedom.  If you or a loved one has been arrested, contact the office for a free consultation today.