I've been charged with assault. What does that mean?
Law enforcement and prosecutors take assault charges very seriously. If you are facing such charges, it is essential to your future that you fully understand the accusations being levied against you and that you know how to act to avoid unfair prosecution, jail time and other legal punishments.
In fact, assault can have different meanings in a court of law, with each charge having different punishments attached to them. Before you appear in front of a judge or agree to any sentencing, you should understand what you are being charged with and know when to hire an attorney to represent you.
Definition of Assault
In its simplest definition, assault means that you either touched someone without that person's consent or that you threatened that individual in such a way that he or she believes that you will carry out the threat. Even if you were just joking or acted out in a moment of anger, you could face real charges in court and possibly serve jail time or pay a huge fine. In fact, this crime can take many forms and occur in varying degrees.
The prosecutor will take into consideration circumstances such as: 1) if you used a weapon; 2) if you were sober or drunk when you allegedly committed the offense; and 3) whether the offense was sexual, violent, verbal or felonious in nature. These criteria can play a significant role in what kinds of charges you will face.
When to Hire an Attorney
Undoubtedly, if you are facing such accusations, you should retain counsel to represent and guide you throughout the ensuing legal process. You may be unsure of when to hire your lawyer, however. In most cases, you should hire a lawyer before you speak to the police or agree to being questioned.
It's important to know that you have a constitutional right to an attorney and have the right to request counsel immediately after your arrest. When you have an attorney present with you during questioning and thereafter, you can avoid being unfairly incriminated, being coerced into confessing, or having false promises made to you in exchange for information or a confession.
The Role of Your Attorney
Along with being present with you during questioning, your lawyer can also play a vital role in getting the charges against you dismissed or reduced. As ironic as it sounds, sometimes this help is gained when you only tell your attorney the smallest amount of information. Before your lawyer goes to work on your case, he or she must find out what the prosecutor is charging you with.
When you consult with an attorney, it is vital that you answer his or her questions fully, but only to the degree that is relevant to your case. Using the factual information that you report to your legal team, your lawyer can determine if the charges are fair and if they can be reduced or dismissed. In some instances, your counsel may be able to help you avoid jail time, fines and the stigma that goes along with being charged with assault.
Facing assault charges can be frightening and stressful. You can make sure that you get your fair day in court when you understand what this charge means and why you should hire an attorney. With your lawyer to guide you, you could escape the worst implications of these accusations and be able to move on with your life.