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A Criminal Defense Law Firm

Assault and Crimes of Violence

The most commonly prosecuted felony crimes of violence are Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, and Aggravated Stalking. We are also now seeing more charges for felony Cruelty to Children in the First and Second Degree. All are considered major felonies and carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. Nevertheless, some conduct criminalized by these statutes can be quite minor, so these offenses are very fact sensitive. These cases must be taken very seriously as they are often sentenced with jail time, and parole is only considered after most of the sentence has been served.

Cruelty to Children in the first degree is an assault or battery against a person under 18 years of age. This charge is often placed against parents exercising reasonable discipline. To many police and prosecutors, spanking your child is now a felony. We also are seeing more Cruelty to Children in the Second degree charges as well. This offense occurs when an adult causes an injury to a child through their own negligence. For example, if an adult is drinking alcohol and a child under their care is injured, this would certainly be charged as cruelty to children in the second degree.

Assault in Georgia is an attempt to cause physical injury to another person. For example, attempting to strike someone with a hand or object, and missing. Assault is also any intentional act or threat of action that reasonably causes a person to feel afraid of impending violence. Threatening to beat up someone, when said in a menacing manner, is assault if it appears that the assailant has the ability to carry out the threat and the victim believes or could reasonably believe that he is about to be struck or injured. Aggravated Assault is an assault committed with the intent to rob, rape, or murder someone, with a deadly weapon or any object that can be used in a manner that results in serious bodily injury (i.e. fists, feet, car), or by discharging a firearm from a vehicle.

Battery is actual physical contact, such as punching another person or hitting someone with an object. Examples include striking another person with a fist during an argument or pushing someone. Battery becomes aggravated battery when the offender intentionally inflicts a serious injury to the victim, such as loss of limb, loss of use of a limb, or serious disfigurement. Serious injury includes broken bones, a coma, or wounds that require suturing or hospitalization. Serious disfigurement refers to a physical alteration of the body, such as a visible scar, or broken bone that alters one’s physical appearance.

A common defense to both Aggravated Assault and Aggravated Battery is self-defense. A recent improvement in Georgia Law is that a person who claims they acted in “self-defense” is entitled to a full pre-trial hearing to determine whether the actions were justified under the doctrine of “self-defense.” Claiming self-defense can be tricky depending on where the defense took place and what was being defended. Generally, the aggressor cannot claim self-defense. Another factor is that the amount of force used has to be reasonably calculated to the severity of the threat. A person in their home protecting themselves or other people from an invader has the strongest claim to self-defense.

The most commonly prosecuted felony crimes of violence are Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Stalking and Aggravated Battery.  Each carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and they are all considered major felonies.  Nevertheless, some conduct criminalized by these statutes can be quite minor, so these offenses are very fact sensitive.  These cases must be taken very seriously as they often are sentenced with a jail term and parole is considered only after most of the sentence has been served.

Aggravated Assault is threatening someone with a “deadly weapon.”  The “deadly weapon is often a gun or knife, but it could be anything including fists, feet, a car, or even a pillow if its use is designed to cause serious injury or death.  Aggravated Battery is a touching (usually a hit) that causes permanent disfigurement or renders a body part useless.  The Courts have defined these words very broadly such that a broken tooth, fat lip or black eye can pass as Aggravated Battery.  A common defense to both Aggravated Assault and Aggravated Battery is self defense.  One recent improvement in Georgia Law is that a person who claims they acted in “self defense” is entitled to a full pre-trial hearing to determine whether the actions were justified under the doctrine of “self defense.”  The legal definition of self defense is tricky, depending on where the defense takes place and what thing is being defended.  Generally, the aggressor cannot claim self defense and the amount of force has to be reasonably calculated to the severity of the threat.  A person in their own home protecting themselves or other people from an invader has the strongest claim to self defense.