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What is aggravated assault?

Assault is a serious offense that carries a lot of jail time for the perpetrator. According to data collected by The National Center for Victims of Crime, nearly 1,000,000 cases of aggravated assault took place in 2012 alone. Out of all those cases, nearly 95 percent involved someone with a weapon. 

Many people become confused regarding the differences between assault and battery, but there is also a big distinction between simple assault and aggravated assault. In some cases, a person may face aggravated assault charges, which carry much harsher penalties. It is vital to understand the difference to adequately fight a specific charge in court. 

The difference

Assault is the act of threatening another person's well-being. It is a threat, which differs from battery. Battery is the actual act of harming another person. Many times, people face charges for both assault and battery. 

Aggravated assault occurs when a person threatens another person's well-being by recklessly using a weapon. For example, if a person points a gun at someone else, threatening his or her life, but does not cause any bodily harm to the person, then that would constitute aggravated assault. Another instance of aggravated assault happens when someone operates a vehicle dangerously. 

The penalties

Most of the time, assault is a misdemeanor that carries up to two years of jail time and a fine. However, aggravated assault is either a second-degree or first-degree felony. The defendant could face anywhere between 10 and 20 years in jail as well as hefty fines. 

Additionally, a charge automatically increases to aggravated assault if a public official was on the receiving end of it. Another differentiation to make is with vehicular assault. This occurs when someone causes physical harm to others by recklessly driving a car. In the event someone becomes arrested for driving under the intoxication of alcohol, then he or she would also likely face vehicular assault charges.

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