Holidays always involve lots of time with family and friends, sometimes lots of alcohol, and often lots of stress…and most of the time, all goes fine!
Still, there are situations when stress and alcohol consumption cause even the best of friends or closest of family members to fight.
If you’ve been there before, then you know for sure, there’s nothing worse than a holiday that is supposed to be filled with joy and good cheer end with assault charges against friends or family. Take one Connecticut man who recently pled guilty to one count of second-degree assault.
Brookfield Man Trades Violent Criminal Charges for Lesser Assault
In order to avoid multiple charges including first-degree strangulation, first-degree assault, and resisting arrest, the Brookfield local accepted the single second-degree assault charge.
Since he had prior assault convictions, he knew that he would face more severe penalties, based on Connecticut laws regarding the priors on his record.
So, what is covered under Connecticut assault law, anyway?
Three Levels of Assualt (and Aggravating Factors) in Connecticut
According to Connecticut law, there are three levels of assault: third-, second-, and first-degree assault. Two of them can result in felony charges, and there are a number of aggravating factors that can elevate an assault crime.
Assault in the Third Degree
Third-degree assault is the least severe of the potential charges. A third-degree assault charge is considered a Class A misdemeanor. This carries up to a $2000 fine and a year in prison. Involving a firearm raises the penalty to a year minimum, rather than maximum.
Events that can result in a charge of third-degree assault include:
- Negligently causing injury with a weapon,
- Recklessly causing serious injury, and
- Intentionally causing injury.
Injuring someone whether accidentally or intentionally with a knife or gun, without a weapon but in a particularly severe way, or regardless of weapon but intentionally causing bodily harm can all result in a third-degree assault charge.
Assault in the Second Degree
A second-degree assault charge is the next step up. It is a class D felony. The penalties include fines up to $5,000 and a prison sentence of one to five years.
A second-degree assault charge involves intending to hurt someone badly, but not necessarily permanently. They often stem from:
- Causing serious harm with intent,
- Drugging someone, or
- Harming someone purposefully with a deadly weapon other than a firearm.
You could have received a second-degree assault charge this holiday season for hitting someone with anything other than your fists, or for causing serious injury when you hit them.
Assault in the First Degree
A first-degree assault charge is the most serious assault level. It is a Class B felony, with the potential for a $15,000 fine and 20 years in prison, along with a five-year minimum sentence.
You will be charged with first-degree assault for:
- Causing harm with a firearm,
- Intending to cause physical harm with multiple participants,
- Intending to permanently disfigure, destroy, or amputate,
- Recklessly acting so that death may result, but only physical harm occurs instead.
The key here is acting in a way that results in permanent harm. Shooting at someone or acting in a way that could potentially kill someone can result in first-degree assault charges in Connecticut. Avoiding a charge in this circumstance is very hard unless you have good representation.
Aggravated Assault Charges
Assault charges are sometimes considered “aggravated” depending on who the assault was against. Assaulting pregnant women, disabled people, law enforcement officials and employees of the Department of Corrections all result in an “aggravated” assault charge, which makes higher penalties likely.
The holidays may have been stressful this year. If you let it get to you, you might have received an assault charge for Christmas. If that’s the case, turn to an experienced criminal defense attorney for advice. It could mean the difference between spending your New Year behind bars.
About the Author
Douglas D. Rudolph practices criminal defense law with two guiding principles in mind: that you are someone who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and that you are innocent until proven guilty. Those are beliefs that have served him well so far in New Haven and across Connecticut, where he has built a reputation as someone who truly cares about his clients and will fight aggressively for them. His work has earned him a number of prestigious awards, including landing on The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 list two years in a row, and being named to the Top 10 Under 40 by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys in 2018.