If you were recently arrested and charged with assault, you are probably feeling overwhelmed about what to do next.  This article covers everything you need to know about the charges being brought against you, so that you are able to start making decisions that can – and will – dictate the course of your future, and possibly even your freedom.

The True Definition of Assault

While the legal definition of assault varies depending on the jurisdiction, in general, it involves the following 3 elements:

  • An intentional or reckless act. Assault typically requires some form of intentional or reckless conduct, such as physical violence, a threat, or an attempt to cause harm.
  • The threat or actual use of force. Assault may involve the threat or use of physical force against another person, such as a punch or kick.  It often includes the use of a weapon or other object.
  • The perception of fear or harm. For an assault to occur, the victim must perceive a threat of harm or fear of physical injury. This fear can be real or perceived, and is typically evaluated based on the reasonable person standard.

Types of Assault Charges in Atlanta

Assault charges in Atlanta vary greatly depending on the severity of the offense, and can be broken down into the following classifications:

  • Simple Assault
    • Intentionally or recklessly causes another person to fear immediate physical harm
    • Most often charged as a misdemeanor
    • Punishable by up to 12 months in jail, probation, a $1,000 fine, and restitution payments

  • Aggravated Assault
    • Causes serious bodily harm to another person
    • Often uses a deadly weapon, such as a firearm or a knife
    • Is carried out with the intent to rape, rob and/or murder
    • Charged as a felony offense

The Consequences of a Criminal Conviction in Atlanta

Criminal convictions in Atlanta can have lasting implications:

  • Some employers can’t hire employees with criminal records. Others simply refuse to do so. What’s more, certain professional licenses may be revoked and applications denied due to a criminal conviction.
  • Some landlords won’t rent to potential new tenants who have a criminal record, since it seems too “risky.”  After all, if it happened once, there’s a much higher probability of it happening again.
  • Traveling abroad can also become difficult after being convicted of a crime in Atlanta. Many countries will deny entry if you have a criminal history, even if it is minor or from quite some time ago.

This is before you factor in the financial implications of a criminal conviction in Atlanta. Fines and court costs can quickly add up, which is then compounded by the mounting legal fees related to defending against the charges.

The Importance of Knowing Your Rights During Arrests

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you need to know your legal rights:

  • The right to remain silent. Keep in mind that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Only provide factual information like your name and address when asked. Keep responses short. Do not volunteer more information than is necessary.
  • The right to refuse a search without a warrant. If law enforcement officers attempt to search your person or property without a valid warrant, then politely tell them “no” and explain why they are legally not allowed to do so unless there is a warrant in-hand.
  • Your Miranda Rights. In most cases, suspects must have their Miranda Rights read before questioning, and cannot be detained longer than 48 hours without being formally charged with a crime or granted release through bail/bond (depending on the severity of the offense).

Atlanta Criminal Defense Strategies

One of the most common criminal defense strategies is challenging the evidence against you. This may involve questioning the validity of a search warrant or whether a confession was obtained legally. An attorney may also contend that the proof presented is not adequate to find the defendant guilty.

Additional strategies include:

  • Negotiating a plea.  This oftentimes means pleading guilty to a less-severe charge, so that the case doesn’t go to trial, where the end outcome would be uncertain.
  • Filing motions. Motions are legal documents submitted to the court that request things like suppressing evidence or dismissing certain counts against defendants due to a lack of sufficient proof or the infringement of constitutional rights.
  • Utilizing expert witnesses during trial proceedings. Expert witnesses are individuals who provide testimony based on specialized knowledge they possess regarding specific topics associated with a case.  So, for example, bringing in a forensic scientist or medical examiner to discuss the injuries sustained in connection with the alleged crimes committed.

Outside of the aforementioned strategies, attorneys may push for diversion programs like anger management classes or community service hours, so that their clients avoid jail time but still take responsibility and accept personal accountability for their wrongdoings. This provides an opportunity for rehabilitation, as opposed to punishment alone.

Hiring an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Hiring a criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the local judicial system and has extensive experience with developing successful defense strategies is imperative to  safeguarding your rights when faced with assault charges in Atlanta. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will have a thorough understanding of Georgia’s laws, including applicable statutes and case law that could potentially affect the outcome of your case.

Do NOT Delay, Talk to a Professional Today

At Hines Law Firm, we believe that everyone deserves access to experienced legal counsel. Our team of Atlanta criminal defense attorneys will provide you with the best possible defense strategies for the unique circumstances surrounding your arrest. Rest assured, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf to arrive at the best possible outcome.

Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation, so that we can properly assess the specifics of your case, and start devising a plan of action.