Assault Charges: May I know My Rights?

An assault charge is a grave legal predicament. To be convicted of assault in the United States can result in stark penalties such as jail time, probation and heavy fines. The laws regarding assault vary from state to state but the general definition of assault across the United States is any act that seeks to cause bodily or mental harm to another person without their consent. There is a common misconception that physical contact is necessary for an assault conviction. However, even gestures and verbal threats can constitute as assault.

Types of Assault Charges

Assault charges can vary depending on the type and severity of the violation the victim claims to suffer.

Simple Assault – Any injuries sustained from the assault are minor and no weapon was used to commit it

Verbal Assault – Oral and non-physical in nature, resulting in fear, distress or emotional anguish

Sexual Assault – Sodomy, molestation, rape or any other kind of sexual offense or act committed without the victims consent

Aggravated Assault – Use of force against another individual as well as use of a weapon

Physical Assault – A serious physical attack on someone resulting in grievous bodily harm

Felonious Assault – Considered to be the most serious of all assault charges, it can include the use of a weapon, an assault that results in serious bodily harm and exercising force over another person against their will

Know Your Rights

When you have been accused of assault, it is necessary that you understand how serious your situation is and act appropriately. Your best bet would be to understand your legal rights in the given situation and act in a way that will maximize the utility that you can get from those rights.

  •  You have the right to secure the services of a qualified and professional attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to be defended by a lawyer paid for by the state.
  • You have the right to remain silent when questioned by the police. It is always better to exercise this right if your lawyer is not present. If you are arrested by the police right after the assault charge has been placed, and you are taken to the police station, it is always better to stay quiet until your attorney arrives. Anything you say to the police can be misconstrued to improve the chances of your conviction. An experienced lawyer will know this and will know what kind of language to use when talking to the police to minimize the risk of this happening.
  • You have a right to present your own witnesses. This is an important right and can steer the outcome of the accusation in your favor. It is best for you to start compiling a list of potential witnesses as soon as you know you have been charged with assault.
  • If you have been accused of sexual assault, you have the right to scientific testing which can disprove the allegations made against you.