What are the Penalties for Assaulting a Police Officer?

What are the Penalties for Assaulting a Police Officer?

Any kind of assault against a police officer is considered a violent felony, with probation not being an option, and it can land you in prison from two years to a life sentence.

Although all types of assault are taken seriously in a court of law, assaults against police officers are seen as particularly egregious – the court likely won’t be in your favour, and you are likely to face years in prison.

What counts as assault on a police officer or law enforcement officer?

Assault on a police officer is defined in New York Penal Law Article 120.08 as causing a police officer, peace officer, fireman, or emergency services professional serious physical injury with the intent of preventing them from performing their lawful duty. A serious injury is defined as causing death, causing near death, causing impairment of health or protracted disfigurement, or causing the loss of a bodily organ.

How can a police officer assault happen?

To use an example, if an individual were to hit a police officer intentionally with their car after being stopped by them, causing them grave physical injury, this would likely be classed as assault on a police officer. 

What different types of assaulting a police officer charges are there?

Assault on a police officer can be divided into three different categories:

  • Assault in the second degree (Penal Law Code 120.05) refers to preventing an officer from performing their lawful duties by causing physical injury, defined as injury that leads to great physical pain or a physical impairment – this is a class D felony
  • Assault on a police officer (Penal Law Code 120.08) is a more serious charge and a class C felony, in which the defendant causes death, risk of death, protracted disfigurement, loss of a bodily organ, or the serious impairment of health.
  • Aggravated assault on a police officer (Penal Law Code 120.11) is a class B felony and the most serious charge, and can only be made out if the assault was carried out with a dangerous instrument (for example, a vehicle) or deadly weapon (this can include, for example, a blade, a firearm, or metal knuckles)


What kind of punishments can you expect?

Any form of assault on a police officer could result in a sentence of at least two years, and – as you would expect – this increases with the severity of the charge:

  • The maximum sentence for assault in the second degree is seven years, with a minimum of two years in prison as it is considered a violent felony.
  • The maximum sentence for assault on a police officer is fifteen years, with a minimum sentence of three and a half years in prison, regardless of any prior convictions.
  • For aggravated assault of a police officer, the minimum sentence is five years, with a maximum of 25 – this can be extended to life in prison for persistent felony offenders

What can impact the length of a sentence?

While assaulting a police officer in any form will lead to a prison sentence of at least two years, there are a variety of factors that can impact the length of a sentence.

For instance, with regard to assault in the second degree, no prior convictions may result in you receiving the minimum sentence of two years, prior non-violent convictions could result in at least three years, and a history of violent crime could lead to a sentencing of at least five years. If you are a persistent felony offender, assaulting a police officer could even land you a life sentence.

What are the defenses against an assault charge?

As previously implied, the ‘lawful’ element of the definition means that any police officer assaulted must have been prevented from performing their duties. This means that if a police officer was not acting within these lawful duties that a defendant cannot be charged with assault on a police officer – however, they can, and likely will, be charged with another form of assault.

Additionally, the kind of injury that is caused can also be used as a defence. For example, if the injury a defendant has caused is not causing the officer substantial pain or physical impairment, then this can be used as a defense against the charge.

What can happen other than a conviction?

In addition to any convictions, anybody charged with assaulting a police officer could face paying fees, fines, and/or restitution to the victim or the victim’s family.

Felony assault of a police officer can incur a fine of up to $5,000, and you’ll likely need to pay fees – like a mandatory surcharge fee of $300 and a victim assistance fee.

What happens following a conviction?

Regardless of the degree or category, assaulting a police officer is a violent and serious crime, and any conviction will be followed by a period of post release supervision, ranging from a year and a half to five years. You will need to follow certain rules during this period – this may include not interacting with others with a criminal record, using illicit substances, or potential restrictions on travel. 

You will likely also need to follow a strict schedule of attending school or work, keeping to a curfew, and reporting to your parole officer. Breaking any of these rules could result in being sent back to prison for a set period of time, or to carry out the remainder of your original sentence.

Talk to an Assault on a Police Officer Lawyer About Your Charge

If you have been charged with assaulting a police officer, it’s of vital importance that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney to understand the ramifications of this crime – especially since these kinds of convictions have the potential to follow you for the rest of your life.

Get in contact with the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman today – and we can arrange a free consultation to discuss the details of your case, as well as the options you can take.