Most people might not realize it; but the crime of assault does not always involve physical contact. An assault can consist of a threat of bodily harm along with the ability to carry out the threat and actually cause harm. As long as the assailant has the intent to cause the intended victim fear of being assaulted – as in the threat to hit someone with a fist in the air, or holding a gun to someone’s head while threatening them – and the victim has a real fear of injury, it is an assault.
Assault is a crime against the person, and the charge can range from simple assault to aggravated assault. In Mississippi, those charged with simple assault and aggravated assault face serious consequences which include large fines and prison time depending on whether they are facing misdemeanor or felony charges.
Simple assault – A simple assault causes bodily injury without the use of a weapon. It usually involves minor injuries that result in cuts or bruises. The requirements for assault according to Mississippi law include:
- The attempt to physically injure someone
- The intent to cause physical harm to someone
- Causing bodily injury due to the negligence use of a deadly weapon
- The threat of serious injury that causes the person to be fearful that they are going to suffer that injury
The penalty for a conviction on simple assault may result in a fine of not more than $500, and up to six months in the county jail. An assault on certain special victims as outlined in the law can enhance a conviction to $1,000 and up to five years in prison.
Aggravated assault is a felony which a person can be charged with if they do any of the following:
- Attempt to cause serious bodily injury to another person
- Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause serious bodily harm to another person with extreme indifference to the value of human life
- Attempts to cause or knowingly cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon
The penalty for aggravated assault is not more than one year in the county jail, or not more than 20 years in the state penitentiary. Aggravated assault also has enhancements if the crime is against a special victim, which include a fine of not more than $5,000, prison time of not more than 30 years or both.
Special victims in Mississippi
Here are a few examples of special victims:
- DHS or other state agency employee
- Law enforcement
- A person over the age of 65 who is a vulnerable adult as defined by the law
Additional penalties for assaulting a special victim may include restitution, which the perpetrator may be required to pay to the victim for medical expenses stemming from their injury.
A felony aggravated assault conviction can have far-reaching consequences in a person’s life. The American Bar Association has compiled a database of collateral consequences of criminal convictions in the U.S. This free tool provides a list of the consequences that might apply to a Mississippi resident who has been convicted of assault or any other crime.
Depending on the nature of the offense, and the extent the perpetrator’s criminal background, a competent criminal defense attorney may be able to get your charges reduced. Assault is a violent crime, which the courts take very seriously in Mississippi, and even more so if a weapon was used to commit the crime. A misdemeanor simple assault can be eventually expunged if it is a first offense and if the perpetrator stays out of trouble.
If you or someone you care about is facing assault charges, we invite you to contact Taylor Jones Taylor. We will advise you on your options based on the facts of the case. We serve clients in Southaven, Olive Branch, Hernando and surrounding areas in Desoto County, Mississippi.