Assault in Mississippi is defined as when a person (i) attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; (ii) negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm; or (iii) attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily harm. Assault is a misdemeanor punishable by fine up to $500 and/or jail time of six months.
There are enhanced penalties for assault upon a public official, such as teachers, legislators, police officers, and social workers, while acting within the scope of the official’s duty. These crimes carry a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of five years.
Aggravated assault is a felony. It is committed when a person (i) attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; (ii) attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm; or (iii) causes any injury to a child who is in the process of boarding or exiting a school bus in the course of a violation of Section 63-3-615. The punishment is jail time between 1-20 years. Aggravated assault of a public official carries jail time of up to 30 years.
If you’re charged with assault in Southaven or Olive Branch, MS, you may have options to avoid going to jail and having a conviction on your record for life. You should first talk to a criminal lawyer who handles these types of cases. Because even misdemeanor assault is considered a violent crime, you may be required to attend anger management classes. You also may have to go on probation for the six-month period. But if it’s your first offense, you may be able to get a non-adjudication or deferment; this essentially retires the case and allows you to later have it expunged from your record.
Aggravated assault is tougher because it’s a felony. These cases are taken very seriously by the courts, especially when a deadly weapon is involved. I do not recommend pleading guilty as charged because you’ll never have the ability to expunge it from your record. The best option, if you do not want to go to trial, is to have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor and from there treat it like simple assault. This is not always possible but it may be possible in your case. But if you want to go to trial you need to explore all defenses such as whether you acted in self-defense, whether the state can prove a deadly weapon was used, and whether the victim will testify.
For help with your case, contact Southaven criminal defense lawyer Patrick Stegall. Mr. Stegall handles misdemeanor and felony cases throughout North Mississippi, and specializes in helping first-time offenders avoid damaging permanent convictions. Please contact him at (901)205-9894 or firstname.lastname@example.org.