Why Aggravated Assault Charges in Georgia Require a Lawyer

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Assault and Battery crimes are often trivialized. However, Georgia code categorizes these serious offenses as “Crimes Against the Person.” This chapter also includes Homicide, Cruelty to Children, and Kidnapping. A commonly asked question is “what is the difference between Assault and Battery?” In the state of GA, Battery involves physical contact/physical abuse. There are two degrees for Assault and Battery charges: “simple” offenses are classified as misdemeanors and “aggravated” offenses are often felonies, these carry harsher penalties and are classified according to the severity of the crime and/or injury.

Certain circumstances can elevate the charge(s), to a misdemeanor with a high and aggravated nature, some of these include:

  • If domestic violence occurs; or
  • If the victim is a correctional officer, firefighter, peace officer, a teacher, an elder, or pregnant. 

Even though these offenses of a high and aggravated nature are misdemeanors, they carry harsher penalties. Another commonly asked question: “Is domestic violence a felony?” According to GA law, first-time domestic violence conviction is a high and aggravated misdemeanor, with any subsequent convictions being a felony. Family violence law is a commission of offenses of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass occurs between current and former spouses, parents and children penalties become more severe. (Full list of relationships listed under punishment)  

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To avoid these criminal charges turning into life-altering convictions, you need a criminal defense lawyer with years of experience and knowledge on how to build a strategic defense against such allegations to receive reduced charges. Call the law office of Kohn & Yager, LLC. in Atlanta, Georgia to speak with one of our attorneys regarding your case.

What is Aggravated Assault in Georgia?

Simple Assault, the most common type of assault in the state of Georgia, is a misdemeanor and is punishable by serving up to one year in jail, fines, community service, restitution, and probation. However, no physical contact has to be made. O.C.G.A. § 16-5-20 (2010). Simple Assault is 1) when an individual attempts to commit a violent injury to another, or 2) acts in such a manner that the victim feels they are in imminent danger. Catching a simple assault charge is relatively easy. An example being, in a hostile manner you threaten to choke out the person you are arguing with, and they fear you will do so. 

Aggravated Assault (O.C.G.A. § 16-5-21) (2010) is classified as a felony and is defined as when a person:

 1) assaults with intent to rape, murder, or to rob;

 2) assaults with a deadly weapon, or with any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or does result in serious bodily injury; or

3) assaults without justification discharging a firearm from within a motor vehicle toward a person or persons. 

This type of crime has more severe penalties. Aggravated Assault sentences range from 1-20 years in prison, in addition to fines and restitution. 

What is the Punishment for Aggravated Assault in Georgia?

The penalties vary depending on the class and severity of the circumstances briefly mentioned earlier. Punishments excluding any “special” circumstances that would increase the punishment for this felony charge include: fines up to $100,000, restitution, parole for up to 20 years, and no more than a 20-year sentence in prison. Listed below are factors that exacerbate the offense of Aggravated Assault and its penalties.

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  • If the offense is against a law enforcement officer or correctional officer, minimum imprisonment sentence is 5 years with no more than 20 years,
  • If the offense is against an elderly person who is 65 years of age or older, minimum imprisonment sentence is 3 years with no more than 20 years,
  • If the offense takes place in a public transit vehicle, minimum imprisonment sentence is 3 years with no more than 20 years,
  • If the offense involves the use of a firearm, takes place in a school safety zone and is against a teacher, student or other school personnel, minimum imprisonment sentence is 5 years with no more than 20 years,
  • If the offense is against a person or person(s) included in the family violence law; current or former spouses, stepparents, and stepchildren, parents and children, persons who are parents of the same child, foster parents and foster children, or persons currently or formerly living in the same household minimum imprisonment sentence is 3 years with no more than 20 years,
  • If the offense is committed with intent to rape against a child under the age of 14, minimum imprisonment sentence is 25 years, with no more than 50 years; or
  • If the offense is against an officer of the court, and such person is engaged in, or on the account of the performance of his or her duties, minimum imprisonment sentence is 5 years with no more than 20 years. If the offense involves the discharge of a firearm by an individual over the age of 17, minimum imprisonment sentence is 10 years with no more than 20 years.

If you have any previous felony convictions on your criminal record, you may have to serve the maximum time of 20 years in prison.

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How to Fight Aggravated Assault Charges in Georgia

Self-defense is one of the most common defenses used to fight these types of charges. This defense is referred to as an affirmative defense, which includes admitting that the violent threat of the assault did happen, but the reasoning behind the violence was justifiable under law. Other common defenses our Atlanta attorneys use in cases involving aggravated assault charges: defense of others and/or property, lack of intent, or the object used in the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon was not a deadly weapon. It is still possible to have the charges reduced and maybe even dismissed, our criminal lawyers will exhaust every resource to minimize the charges against you.

Can I Request an Aggravated Assault Georgia First Offender Plea? First Time Assault Charge

In the state of Georgia, the First Offender Act is a law that allows “first offenders” to enter a guilty plea and serve out the terms of their sentence, either probation and jail time, or solely probation. Upon completion of the term without any violations, the charges will be dismissed. This alternative sentence may only be used one time, and may only be used if the defendant does not have any prior felony convictions. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 17-10-6.1 (2010), Aggravated Assault is NOT one of the crimes that are eligible for sentencing under Georgia’s First Offender Act. As previously mentioned, if the charges are reduced to simple assault charges, this may then become an option for the defendant, according to the circumstances.

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Can I Get an Aggravated Assault Bond in GA?

O.C.G.A.§ 17-6-1 (2010) lists thirteen offenses that are “non-bailable” in the state of Georgia, and Aggravated Assault is one of them. However, you may be released on bond for Aggravated Assault if it is set by a Superior Court Judge. The Judge shall authorize an individual to be released on bond if the court finds that the person: 

  1.  Poses no flight risk, risk of fleeing or failing to appear in court,
  2.  Poses no significant threat to the community, other persons or property within the community,
  3.  No risk of committing any felony pending trial; and
  4.  Poses no significant risk of obstructing the administration of justice or intimidating witnesses.

In addition to these requirements, the Judge will also look at the accused’s criminal history (if any), nature of the crime, and the circumstances.

If you recently have been charged with Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, or Battery charges call Kohn & Yager, LLC. at (404) 567-5515 to speak with one of our lawyers about your case. Our Aggravated Assault attorneys serve the greater metro-Atlanta area and are here to fight your charges on your behalf. Give yourself the fighting chance you deserve, call for your FREE CONSULTATION now.

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Related Links: 

Georgia’s Assault and Battery Laws

Legal Resources and Information on Assault & Battery Laws

O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1 Family Violence 

If you or anyone you know is subject to abuse, emotionally or physically, get help NOW by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline: call 1-800-799-7233.

Bonds and Recognizances: OCGA § 17-6-1 (2010) Where offenses bailable; procedure; schedule of bails; appeal bonds