There are different types of assault that someone may be charged with here in the United States. A person can be charged with aggravated assault when the prosecution believes they can prove that the defendant acted with a reckless disregard for human life.
Several factors can impact a prosecutor’s decision to charge a defendant with a simple or aggravated assault charge. It matters whether a defendant used a weapon and what their intent was. Prosecutors also take into account the severity of the injuries and the status of the victim.
Simple assault is generally classified as a misdemeanor whereas aggravated assault is categorized as a felony. Most states have several different types of aggravated assault crimes on their books. One example of this type of criminal offense is an assault with a deadly weapon.
Any assault that involves the use of a deadly weapon automatically results in charges being upgraded to aggravated assault. It doesn’t matter whether the weapon caused any injuries or not. Physical harm doesn’t have to occur for someone to be charged with either simple or aggravated assault. All that matters is that there was a threat of physical harm that occurred.
The identity of a victim could factor into whether a person is charged with aggravated assault. Individuals such as teachers, firefighters and police officers are members of a protected class. Anyone who knowingly commits an assault against someone like this may be charged with an aggravated offense. Other individuals may receive special protection based upon their ethnicity, gender, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
Determining the state of mind of the defendant at the time the assault occurred is an important factor in deciding whether to charge a person with aggravated assault. If a defendant’s acts result in someone else’s serious bodily harm, such as life-threatening injuries, then they may be charged with an aggravated assault.
An aggravated assault is considered a felony in most jurisdictions. It may be possible for you to get your charges reduced to simple assault charges instead though. An attorney can help you negotiate with Prince George’s County prosecutors with the end goal of getting your charges reduced in your Maryland case.