I've been charged with assault. What does that mean?


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's 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 they believe 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. whether you used a weapon;
  2. whether 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. However, you may be unsure of when to hire your lawyer. 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. When you consult with an attorney, it is vital that you answer their questions fully, but only to the degree that is relevant to your case. As ironic as it sounds, sometimes it helps when you tell your attorney only the smallest amount of information.

Before your lawyer goes to work on your case, they must find out what the prosecutor is charging you with. 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.

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Whether you're facing a legal issue or just seeking information, Justipedia aims to be your most trusted resource for legal information on the Web. With the help of legal professionals across the country, we put the law in plain language to help answer your top legal questions.

Justipedia was founded by Internet veterans Cory Janssen and Mitchell Allen. Janssen founded Investopedia.com and grew it one of the largest investing sites on the Web. Allen is an author, speaker and the founder of LeadRival, the leading provider of pay-per-action advertising in consumer legal services.

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