“Assault” is a very broad term that could describe a whole range of potential incidents that might result in criminal charges. Someone charged with a crime might know that he or she is charged with “assault,” but not understand or know anything more specific. In fact, that is quite common—people call our office knowing they are charged with ‘assault’ but nothing more.
There are a lot of important details that make a crucial difference. If you are charged with assault or an assault-related crime, you need to consult with an attorney immediately who can give you specific advice about your situation.
How serious is an assault charge?
In order to get a sense of how serious the charges against you are, a lawyer will need to know a number of different pieces of information that might not seem relevant to you. For example, the nature of your relationship with the alleged victim, any special status the alleged victim may enjoy—peace officer, public employee, EMT, etc.—and whether an alleged weapon was involved will all change the nature of the charges you might be facing.
An assault offense charge can be anything from a “simple” misdemeanor charge to a very serious “strike” felony. In short—knowing that you’re charged with an assault offense does not, by itself, tell you very much about what you are up against. You need to consult with a qualified defense attorney immediately.
Help! How can you defend me against an assault charge?
The first thing to know is that there is no such thing as a ‘standard’ or ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to defending against an assault charge. Unlike certain other types of crimes—for example, shoplifting, or driving under the influence—there aren’t ‘typical’ ways to attack a case against you or your loved one. Each case requires an individualized, specific approach, based on the circumstances presented. However, there are certain things that you should expect from our office.
First, in an assault case, it’s likely that you will need to consider hiring a complete defense ‘team,’ not just an excellent attorney. A defense team can consist of a lawyer, a licensed private investigator, and any one of a range of possible expert witnesses.
Second, understand that time may be of the essence. There are certain types of evidence which might be useful in an assault defense that have a way of disappearing over time—physical evidence, tapes or digital recordings from closed circuit security systems, even phone messages—and steps may need to be taken to preserve this evidence for use in your defense.
Third: don’t panic! Panic is never helpful, and can cause you to take steps which make a bad situation worse. Finally, whatever else you do, certainly do not make any statements to law enforcement of any sort.