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What Is the Difference between Assault and Aggravated Assault?


Assault and aggravated assault are two different crimes. Assault is less serious than an aggravated assault charge and could result in minor injuries or just a threat of violence. Aggravated assault involves more serious circumstances including the intent to seriously harm another person or the use of a weapon during a threat of harm.

If you or a loved one is being charged with assault or aggravated assault, you must speak with a defense attorney immediately. Both crimes are very serious allegations, and both carry harsh penalties if convicted. It is in your best interest to retain a defense attorney to pursue the best possible outcome in your case.

Exploring the Differences between Assault and Aggravated Assault

Assault crimes involve intentional harm or an attempt to harm another person. When a person physically attacks another or threatens to do so, they may be charged with assault. Depending on how severe the injuries were or whether a weapon was used at the time, will determine if a person is charged with aggravated assault.

Even a fight between two parties can result in a charge of assault. Fighting, even while mutual, is still considered an assault on a person. To understand how the court determines which crime you are guilty of, you must understand the differences between assault and aggravated assault.

What Is Assault?

Assault itself is an intentional act to harm another person or create a fear that they will be seriously harmed. Therefore, you can be charged with assault without actually harming the victim, but only threatening to do so. If a person has a legitimate reason to fear for their safety, and there is an imminent bodily harm risk to them, the person threatening may be arrested and charged with assault. Police officers are allowed to intervene and arrest a person for assault who has not actually touched the victim.

For example, a person is threatening another person with a violent attack using words and bodily gestures. While they did not physically harm that person, the victim has a reasonable fear that they were about to be harmed.

What Is Classified as Aggravated Assault?

Every state has different classifications for what they consider simple assault versus aggravated assault.

Aggravated assault is always charged as a felony, and it may involve a weapon or just the intent to commit a more serious offense against another person, such as sexual assault. Aggravated assault can also include serious bodily harm to the victim, and it depends on how each state classifies aggravated assault specifically.

A common example of aggravated assault would be when someone is violently attacked and struck several times with an object used as a weapon. The person who committed the act against the victim has committed aggravated assault.

The biggest difference between aggravated assault and regular assault is that words alone are not considered an aggravated assault. Now, if someone is threatening violence while holding a weapon, the presence of the weapon could be considered an aggravating factor and result in a charge of aggravated assault.

Assault and Aggravated Assault Charges Are Very Serious

Whether you are facing assault or aggravated assault charges, the law is not in your favor. New Mexico imposes harsher sentences for those who threatened to harm another person or actually harm a person. Even slapping someone across the face could result in jail time. While most assault claims arise from domestic issues, the victim does not have to be someone the defendant knows or is related to.

Under New Mexico law, you can be charged with assault for attempting to harm another person or threatening to harm them. If convicted, you will most likely be charged with a petty misdemeanor. Do not let the name of the criminal charge confuse you because even a petty misdemeanor results in jail time. A person convicted of assault can face up to 6 months in County jail and a fine of up to $500.

Aggravated assault carries a much more serious penalty. Typically, an aggravated assault will be fourth-degree felony. A fourth-degree felony can result in up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Under New Mexico law, aggravated assault is more serious and can include striking another person with or without a weapon or committing a harmful act while wearing a mask or disguise. Intentionally harming a person while intending to commit another felony can also result in an aggravated assault charge on top of the other felony crime.

Arrested for Assault or Aggravated Assault? Contact a Defense Attorney Now

Being accused of assault is very serious – whether simple or aggravated. Your life will change permanently if you are convicted. Therefore, you need to contact a defense attorney immediately.

Speak with an attorney from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices right away or learn more about our free case evaluation online.