Assault Offenses

Assault Offenses: Simple Assault & Aggravated Assault

There are two types of Assault under Georgia law:  Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault.  In most cases, Simple Assault is a misdemeanor offense (although it may be classified as a High and Aggravated Misdemeanor under certain circumstances), while Aggravated Assault is always a Felony.

Simple Assault

According to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-20, A person commits Simple Assault when he or she:

  • Attempts to commit a violent injury to another person, or
  • Commits an act which places another person in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury.

An example of simple assault would be if a person pulls his or her arm back as if to throw a punch, and another individual believes he or she is about to be hit.

Georgia courts have analyzed the issue of the intent required to commit a Simple Assault.  They have held that the accused does not have to intend to cause the victim’s apprehension, but only intentionally commit the act that results in the apprehension.  Patterson v. The State, 299 Ga. 491 (2016).

Penalties for Simple Assault Convictions

Offense Classification Penalty for Conviction
Simple Assault Misdemeanor Up to 12 months jail time and/or a fine of $1,000
Simple Assault in a Public Transit Vehicle or Station High and Aggravated Misdemeanor Up to 12 months jail time and/or a fine of up to $5,000
Simple Assault between Family Members1 High and Aggravated Misdemeanor Up to 12 months jail time and/or a fine of up to $5,000
Simple Assault Against Person 65 Years or Older High and Aggravated Misdemeanor Up to 12 months jail time and/or a fine of up to $5,000
Simple Assault Against Public School Employee while on School Grounds (including busses) and when the Employee is Engaged in Official Duties High and Aggravated Misdemeanor Up to 12 months jail time and/or a fine of up to $5,000
Simple Assault Against Female who is Pregnant2 High and Aggravated Misdemeanor Up to 12 months jail time and/or a fine of up to $5,000

1O.C.G.A. § 16-5-20 includes among these “past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons excluding siblings living or formerly living in the same household.”  It specifically excludes parents (or individuals acting as parents) administering reasonable corporal punishment.

2O.C.G.A. § 16-5-20 specifically excludes abortions.

Aggravated Assault

According to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-21, Aggravated Assault occurs when a person assaults another person:

  1. With intent to murder, to rape, or to rob;
  2. With a deadly weapon or with any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury;
  3. With any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in strangulation; or
  4. A person or persons without legal justification by discharging a firearm from within a motor vehicle toward a person or persons.

Penalties for Aggravated Assault Convictions

Offense Penalty
Aggravated Assault (with no additional aggravating factors) At least 1 year but not more than 20 years (but term may be probated) and a fine of at least $2,000.
Aggravated Assault Against Public Safety Officer – Assault Occurs by Discharge of Firearm Imprisonment for at least 10 years but not more than 20 years, and no portion of the mandatory 10 years shall be suspended, stayed, probated, or deferred unless the State and the Defense have agreed a sentence below the mandatory minimum.  Additionally, a fine of at least $2,000.
Aggravated Assault Against Public Safety Officer – Assault Does Not Involve Discharge of Firearm or the Use of the Person’s Own Body A least 5 but not more than 20 years, and no portion of the mandatory first 3 years may be suspended, stayed, probated, or deferred unless the State and the Defense have agreed a sentence below the mandatory minimum.  Additionally, a fine of at least $2,000.
Aggravated Assault Against Public Safety Officer – Assault Involves Only the Use of the Person’s Body At least 5 but not more than 20 years, but term may be probated.  Additionally, a fine of at least $2,000.
Aggravated Assault Against Person Over 65 Years of Age At least 3 but not more than 20 years (may be probated).
Aggravated Assault in Public Transit Vehicle or Station At least 3 but not more than 20 years (may be probated).
Aggravated Assault in the Course of a Theft (where subject of the theft is a commercial cargo vehicle) At least 5 but not more than 20 years (may be probated).  Additionally, a fine of at least $50,000 but not more than $200,000.
Aggravated Assault – Where offense committed by discharging firearm from a vehicle towards a person or persons At least 5 but not more than 20 years (may be probated unless victim was a public safety officer, see above).
Aggravated Assault Against Teacher or School Personnel Using Firearm in School Safety Zone At least 5 but not more than 20 years (may be probated).
Aggravated Assault Against Family Member1 At least 3 but not more than 20 years (may be probated).
Aggravated Assault with Intent to Rape of Child Under 14 At least 25 but not more than 50 years (but also additionally subject to the provisions O.C.G.A. § 17-10-6.2 pertaining to sexual offenders).
Aggravated Assault Against Officer of the Court while Officer Engaged in Official Duties At least 5 but not more than 20 years (may be probated).

1O.C.G.A. § 16-5-21 includes among these “past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons excluding siblings living or formerly living in the same household.”

Like in many cases involving crimes against the person, there are many defenses that may be applicable in your case  You should discuss every detail of your case with your Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, who will help you decide on the best course of action for you.  That may be a trial, or it may be a plea.  You deserve to know all of your options and to have a competent and experienced Criminal Defense Attorney look at your case in detail.  Call me today.

Crimes Against the Person Practice Areas

  • Family Violence Cases
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Kidnapping
  • False Imprisonment
  • Interference with Custody
  • Cruelty to Children
  • Stalking
  • Homicide

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