Most criminal charges exist on a spectrum. Very similar acts can be charged very differently based on nuances in the law and small factors relevant to the specifics of a case.
After a fight, for example, you may find yourself charged with either simple or aggravated assault. Knowing the difference between the two is essential to your defense.
What distinguishes simple from aggravated assault charges?
Certain factors may motivate prosecutors to file aggravated assault charges against a defendant (instead of simple assault), including:
- The severity of the incident: The more serious the aggression or violence involved, the more apt it is that the defendant will face aggravated assault charges instead of simple assault.
- The strength of the prosecution’s case: Prosecutors who are confident in their ability to prove that someone intended to inflict serious harm on their victim or used a weapon in the commission of their crime may face aggravated assault charges.
- The identity of the victim: Anyone who commits a hate crime against someone belonging to a particular group, such as a disability, religious or racial one, may face aggravated assault charges. The same may also happen if someone acts aggressively or violently toward first responders, including paramedics, firefighters or police officers, who may also face aggravated assault charges.
There is a fine line when a crime moves from assault into other, even more, serious offenses such as attempted homicide. Most jurisdictions place sexual assault in an independent category along with rape.
What are the penalties for simple versus aggravated assault?
The penalties associated with each of these offenses are quite different. Simple assault charges are generally misdemeanors punishable by less than a year of imprisonment. An aggravated assault is a felony offense that can carry more than a year of imprisonment.
If there’s one thing that you should know, it’s that New Hampshire judges and juries don’t tend to look very favorably upon individuals who commit acts of violence against others. Your criminal defense attorney will likely ask you probing questions about the events leading up to your alleged crime to gain a better perspective as to any relevant mitigating factors. Your lawyer will then be able to better advise you as to any defense strategies that you may be able to employ in your Salem case.